The U.S. wants to avoid sanctions against Venezuela while keeping "all options" on the table to induce the South American nation to respect human rights, Secretary of State John Kerry said.
The U.S. is "greatly concerned" by instability in Venezuela, citing President Nicolas Maduro's government for its "total failure" to carry out its promises to respect civil rights, Kerry said today during a trip to Mexico City.
Nationwide protests in Venezuela have left more than 40 people dead since they began in February as a response to the world's fastest inflation, mounting shortages of basic goods and rampant crime. Venezuela's government has held talks with the main opposition alliance after the leader of one of the member parties, Leopoldo Lopez, was jailed in February.
"All options remain on the table at this time with hopes to move this process forward," Kerry said. "Our hope is that sanctions won't be necessary."
In the U.S., Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez and Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson have introduced legislation calling for targeted sanctions against Venezuela.
Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, executive secretary of the Venezuelan opposition coalition known as MUD, said yesterday that talks with the government had stalled.
Maduro, who succeeded late President Hugo Chavez in April last year, said yesterday that he "detests" U.S. intervention in Venezuelan affairs and vowed to continue seeking talks with the opposition.
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