South American union raps US sanction bid on Venezuela
Twelve South American states have rejected an effort by US legislators to impose sanctions on Venezuela over alleged rights abuses.
In a statement issued on Friday following a meeting in the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, foreign ministers from the 12-member Union of South American Nations (Unasur) said that a bill proposed by American lawmakers against Caracas would violate Venezuela’s internal affairs and undermine attempts to defuse the crisis in the country.
Sanctions are obstacles for Venezuela, whose “people can overcome their difficulties with independence, and in democratic peace,” the statement said.
The US House of Representatives will vote on the legislation on Wednesday. The bill will order the administration of US President Barack Obama to ban visas and freeze the assets of Venezuelan officials involved in the alleged rights abuses in the past three months.
Venezuela has been the scene of protests against and in support of the administration of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro since February.
The protests broke out in the western city of San Cristobal, where students took to the streets to criticize the crime rate and inflation in the country. The demonstrations later spread to other cities including the capital Caracas.
Maduro says the unrest is a US-backed plan to topple his government.
Last week, Maduro urged opposition leaders to return to political talks aimed at ending street clashes in the country.
The move came after the Venezuelan opposition suspended the negotiations with the government on May 14 to protest against what it called the mass arrests of anti-government activists.
The opposition says it will not return to the negotiating table until the government accepts its demands, including amnesty for opposition prisoners.
The government, on the other hand, says the opposition is making impossible requests that are akin to blackmail.