US condemns ‘senseless violence’ in Venezuela

Secretary of State John Kerry is joining officials from the United Nations, Organization of American States and European Union in condemning “senseless violence” in Venezuela.

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“The United States is deeply concerned by rising tensions and violence surrounding this week's protests in Venezuela,” Kerry said in a statement. “Our condolences go to the families of those killed as a result of this tragic violence.”

“We are particularly alarmed by reports that the Venezuelan government has arrested or detained scores of anti-government protestors and issued an arrest warrant for opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez. These actions have a chilling effect on citizens' rights to express their grievances peacefully,” he added.

Kerry’s comments came as demonstrators and riot police faced off on Saturday in a fourth day of protests against President Nicolas Maduro.

"I'm not going to give up one millimeter of the power the Venezuelan people have given me ... nothing will stop me from building this revolution which commandant [Hugo] Chavez left us," Maduro told supporters on Saturday, according to Reuters.

“We call on the Venezuelan government to provide the political space necessary for meaningful dialogue with the Venezuelan people and to release detained protestors,” Kerry said. “We urge all parties to work to restore calm and refrain from violence.”

“Freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly are universal human rights. They are essential to a functioning democracy, and the Venezuelan government has an obligation to protect these fundamental freedoms and the safety of its citizens,” he said.