WASHINGTON, D.C.: Washington is weighing sanctions against Venezuela’s leftist government if it fails to foster serious talks to resolve the country’s political crisis, officials said on Thursday (Friday in Manila).
Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson urged President Nicolas Maduro’s government to provide “democratic space for the opposition.”
Sanctions could be an “important tool” if the possibility of dialogue between the government and its adversaries stalls, she added.
Speaking in Spanish to reporters via teleconference, Jacobson said the United States is considering “peaceful measures,” excluding potential military action as an option.
But Washington would first consult with its allies in the Americas before any sanctions.
“We believe that it’s very important to work with our allies in the region on the way to implement any type of sanction,” so that any such measures would be more effective, Jacobson said.
Most other member countries of the Organization of American States regional grouping have backed US efforts to help solve the crisis.
Since early February, Maduro and his government have been the target of mass demonstrations fueled by public anger over soaring crime, hyperinflation and shortages of basic household goods.
At least 34 people have been killed and hundreds wounded in the protests.
The Maduro government has intensified its crackdown on the opposition in recent weeks.
Two opposition mayors have been arrested and sent to prison, while an opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, has been jailed since February, accused of instigating violence against the government.