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October 22, 2014
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Kerry: US growing impatient over Venezuela

US Secretary of State John Kerry gestures as he speak during a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Mexico City, yesterday.

US Secretary of State says eager to avoid sanctions but ‘all options remain on the table’

MEXICO CITY — Impatience with the Venezuelan government is growing over its “total failure” to show good faith in talks to resolve the country’s political crisis, US Secretary of State John Kerry said yesterday during a press conference in Mexico City.

One day after a US Senate committee approved sanctions against Caracas’ officials, Kerry said he hoped the measures would not be necessary but insisted that “all options remain on the table.”

“The power is in the hands of the government, and the government has to exercise that power in a responsible way in order to make the choices to create stability and a way forward in Venezuela,” Kerry told the news conference.

The US Secretary of State said “the neighbours” of Venezuela, including the United States, are concerned about the situation there causing regional instability.

He stressed, however, that Washington is not undertaking any action in the country and, in fact, has reached out to third parties to mediate the crisis.

A group of Unasur chancellors and a Vatican envoy left Caracas on Monday after failing to convince the government and the opposition to sit back at the negotiating table. The MUD opposition coalition insisted the administration of President Nicolás Maduro needs to show proof of its “good faith” for dialogue to continue

Appearing beside Kerry yesterday, Mexican Foreign Minister José Antonio Meade said he backed the Venezuelan talks, but they had to include conditions such as respect for human rights.

The Foreign Affairs committee in the US Senate passed a bill that would impose travel and financial sanctions on individual Venezuelans deemed responsible for human rights abuses.

Kerry said he was eager for sanctions to be avoided.

Doubts

Even in Venezuela, most people agree that sanctions will not help resolve the political crisis.

The general coordinator of Venezuelan NGO Provea, Marino Alvarado, told the AP that sanctions “actually strengthen an authoritative government because they end up giving the president arguments to say that the US is behind protests.” He added that he didn’t think the measures would improve the human rigths’ situation in the country.

On Tuesday, Maduro said the call for sanctions against Venezuelan officials was “really abhorrent” and asked the opposition coalition to join the government in its rejection of the measures.

And even Delsa Solórzano, the MUD’s human rights head, told reporters that she didn’t believe US sanctions would better the situation and that they would only bother those officials affected by visa bans “because they are rich enough to take their children to Disney.”

Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz, one of the officials that could be affected, said last week that eventual sanctions against Venezuela would be unfair and that the world has a “biased” opinion on her country.

The sanctions bill was approved in the Foreign Affairs Committee with 16 votes in favour and two against. Florida Republican Marco Rubio — who co-sponsored the bill — said on Tuesday he hoped the full Senate would vote on the legislation in a matter of weeks.

— Herald with Reuters, AP

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