Washington: The United States is "deeply concerned" at what Secretary of State John Kerry has called "the deteriorating situation" in protest-hit Venezuela.
At least 41 people have been killed in three months of demonstrations against the leftist government of President Nicolas Maduro, with protesters railing against dire economic conditions and what they say is worsening insecurity.
"The serious and worsening economic and social challenges in Venezuela can only be resolved with the input of those people," Kerry yesterday told a conference on the Americas in Washington, saying demonstrators had "legitimate grievances."
"We believe the future of Venezuela is for the people of Venezuela to decide," Kerry said.
"But make no mistake: we will never stop defending the basic human rights that are essential to any functioning democracy, including the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly."