Venezuelan opposition lawmakers were recently attacked by pro-government groups as they tried to enter the electoral board headquarters to demand that procedures be completed without delays to allow a recall referendum against President Nicolas Maduro.
“The United States,” said State Department Spokesperson John Kirby, "is deeply disturbed by reports that National Assembly Majority Leader Julio Borges and other opposition deputies were turned away from the National Electoral Council by police, and then subsequently attacked by a group of armed supporters of the Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela party while returning to their offices."
Mr. Borges told journalists that these militant pro-government groups "acted with total impunity, they had pipes, motorbike helmets, rocks, explosive artifacts, and they used them against us."
The United States condemns acts of violence designed to intimidate citizens exercising their democratic rights and calls on Venezuelan government security forces to maintain order in a manner consistent with international law and international commitments regarding human and civil rights.
The clash between opposition members and militant pro-government groups came amid rising tensions in Venezuela, where falling oil prices have thrust Venezuela into a severe economic crisis and chronic food and medicine shortages fueling protests and demands for President Maduro’s departure.
The United States remains concerned about the violence and the worsening economic conditions in Venezuela and joins the international community in calling upon the Venezuelan government to free all political prisoners, to respect the will of the people, human rights, the separation of powers within the Venezuelan government, and the democratic process. It is incumbent on Venezuelans from across the political spectrum to find peaceful solutions to the real economic, political, and social challenges facing Venezuela.