El Universal edited by www.venezuelanalysis.com

Unasur oppose US sanctions bill

The Union of South American Nations (Unasur) late on Friday rejected a legislative initiative which is being processed in the United States in order to impose sanctions on Venezuelan officials in connection with the protests facing the South American country in the last three months.

Unasur foreign ministers and officials -gathered at the Ecuadoran Galápagos Islands- signed a statement remarking that the intended sanctions violate the principle of non-intervention in the affairs of other states and hit against the process of dialogue between the Venezuelan government and opposition

Such sanctions are also "an obstacle" for the Venezuelan people "to overcome their hardships with independence, peace and democracy," the foreign ministers stressed in their resolution.

Earlier, during the meeting held on Thursday and Friday, the Unasur foreign ministers received a report from the regional bloc's taskforce mediating in the government-opposition talks in Venezuela, which comprises the foreign ministers of Ecuador, Ricardo Patiño; Brazil, Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, and Colombia, María Ángela Holguín.

Meanwhile, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elías Jaua said the US initiative has been approved by the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate to punish "officials who have been leading the restoration of public order and the guaranteeing of peace and stability for the Venezuelan people." Protests and violent unrest in Venezuela over the last three months have left more than 40 people dead.

The targeted officials include military and police officers, governors of Venezuelan states and Venezuela's Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz, Jaua said during a press conference at the end of the ministerial meeting.

He added that the US initiative also provides for USD 15 million to fund Venezuelan opposition groups, regardless of "whether they engage in politics peacefully" or act violently.

A recent national opinion poll by private firm Hinterlaces suggested that between 67 – 73% of Venezuelans oppose the proposed U.S. sanctions.