US House condemns Venezuela’s deadly crackdown
Opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro clash with riot police - AFP/ Leo Ramirez

WASHINGTON:  The House of Representatives on Tuesday voiced near-unanimous condemnation of Venezuela’s government and its “inexcusable” deadly crackdown on opposition leaders and protesters.

The chamber passed a resolution blasting President Nicolas Maduro’s forces for their oppressive tactics in some of the most serious South American unrest in years.

At least 18 people have died and more than 260 injured since protests erupted on Feb. 4.

Congress “deplores acts which constitute a disregard for the rule of law, the inexcusable violence perpetrated against opposition leaders and protesters in Venezuela, and the growing efforts to use politically motivated criminal charges to intimidate the country’s political opposition,” the non-binding resolution states.

It also urges other governments and organizations in the region to stand in solidarity with the protesters and help bring about a dialogue to end the crisis.

House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce praised the chamber for approving a measure which “supports Venezuelans who yearn for a return to the rule of law, democratic norms and respect for basic human rights.”

Royce described Maduro as the hand-picked successor to Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s long-time strongman and Washington antagonist who died one year ago Wednesday.

The House measure passed 393 votes to one, with Republican Thomas Massie as the lone dissenter.

A similar resolution is being considered in the Senate.

U.S. lawmakers have also urged President Barrack Obama to impose sanctions on those responsible for the crackdown.

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