Secretary of State John Kerry assured that the US is working closely with Colombia and other countries to bring a peaceful end to the Venezuelan crisis, according to the US Department of State on Friday.
Speaking from Washington DC alongside Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin, Kerry expressed the government’s willingness examine every available option as the Venezuelan crisis continues, adding that both sides in the divided Latin American country need to commit to an open dialogue “in a peaceful and responsible way.”
“We are working very closely with Colombia and with other countries to try to see how some kind of mediation might be able to take place, because it’s obviously already proven very difficult for the two (Venezuelan) sides to bring themselves together by themselves,” Kerry said.
When questioned on the matter, the Secretary of State confirmed that congress had already discussed imposing sanctions on Venezuela, adding that he does not believe it “inappropriate for Congress or for others to be debating and thinking about those incentives or those measures.”
For her part, Minister Holguin refrained from making any further comments on the Venezuelan situations as she had “made those statements before, and I’d respectfully abstain from making any statements right now.”
The crisis in Venezuela, which began two weeks ago with mass demonstrations against the government of Nicolas Maduro, continue as protesters clashed with government troops on Friday leaving 17 people dead, El Espectador newspaper reported.
The meeting between Kerry and Holguin also included discussions on the drug-trade, economic ties, and the possibility for the US to waive visas for Colombians traveling to the country.
Kerry also signaled a $15 million package to Colombia’s “regions hit hardest by the (civil) conflict,” a program that would be implemented over four years in a bid to improve people’s access to the justice system and help local governments “to combat human rights violations and corruption.”
An additional $7 million was pledged to help implement Colombia’s Victims Law, where victims of the country’s 50-year armed conflict are compensated for damage an human rights violations committed against them by the rebel, paramilitary, and criminal armed groups.
His remarks in Washington come a day after the US Department of State released its annual Human Rights Report, which criticizes Colombia for an inefficient and corrupt judiciary system, and a failure to protect the basic human rights of its citizens during the civil conflict.
Foreign Minister Holguin thanked the Secretary of State for their continued support during the armed conflict and confirmed that both countries had signed an agreement to combat human trafficking.
- Remarks With Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Holguin After Their Meeting (US Department of State Press Release)
- EE.UU. y Colombia estudian “mediar” en crisis venezolana (El Espectador)