US sanctions on Venezuela rejected by South American leaders

SOUTH American governments have rejected an effort by US politicians to apply sanctions on Venezuela over supposed human rights concerns.

Foreign ministers from the 12-member Union of South American Nations issued a statement on Friday night warning that the proposed legislation would constitute interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs and undermine attempts by regional diplomats to foster dialogue between government and opposition.

Sanctions represent “an obstacle for the Venezuelan people to overcome their difficulties,” according to a statement after a meeting in the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador.

The US House of Representatives is expected to debate a bipartisan Bill on Wednesday that would force the Obama administration to ban visas and freeze the assets of Venezuelan officials accused of rights abuses. 

Similar legislation has already cleared the Senate foreign relations committee.

The Obama administration has condemned President Nicolas Maduro’s crackdown on the right-wing opposition but wants to delay applying sanctions.