Latin America & Caribbean

US 'losing patience' with Venezuela - John Kerry

John Kerry in Mexico Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Kerry said that the US is not planning to take any action at this stage

US Secretary of State John Kerry has said that impatience with the Venezuelan government is growing across the region over its failure to address the country's serious political crisis.

Mr Kerry called on President Nicolas Maduro to reopen negotiations with the opposition.

Talks collapsed over a dispute about the release of political prisoners.

At least 42 people, from both sides of the political divide, have been killed in street protests this year.

Speaking during a visit to Mexico, Mr Kerry said that the United States was still considering imposing sanctions against Venezuela, but he hoped such measures would not be necessary.

"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," he said.

Mr Kerry criticised the government's "total failure" to show good faith during the talks, which are being mediated by the Unasur regional bloc and a representative of the Vatican.

He said Venezuela's neighbours, "including the United States", are growing increasingly concerned about the instability generated by the crisis.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Some 3,000 people have been detained since the protests began in February
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Venezuelan government says the United States are behind the opposition protests

Unasur foreign ministers left Caracas on Tuesday, but issued a statement asking both sides to book a date for a new round of talks.

The main opposition group, the Democratic Unity Alliance (MUD), pulled out of the talks last week after the government refused to release more than 200 people detained when the police broke up protest camps in Caracas earlier this month.

The opposition blames the socialist government of Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, for the economic crisis in the in the oil-producing nation.

Mr Maduro says right-wing sectors across the region, backed up by the United States, have been stirring trouble in Venezuela as part of a plan to oust him and put an end to his programme of social reforms.

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