The Organization of American States decided by a large majority to call for the continuation of a "national dialogue" in Venezuela, a formula that satisfied Caracas but not the United States, Panama and Canada, which saw it as an open validation of the response of President Nicolas Maduro to the crisis in his country.

On the second day of a special two-day session behind closed doors about the situation in Venezuela, and after meeting for seven hours, the Permanent Council of the OAS approved a joint statement with 29 votes in favor and three against - those of the U.S., Panama and Canada - and with the abstention of the Bahamas and Grenada.

The statement was immediately proclaimed by Venezuelan representative Roy Chaderton as a "victory" not only for his country, but "for Latin America," while the U.S., Panama and Canada expressed deep disagreement in separate footnotes to the document.

In Caracas, the Maduro government celebrated Friday the OAS Permanent Council's statement as a "victory of dignity."

The OAS expressed its "acknowledgement, full support and encouragement for the initiatives and efforts of the democratically elected government of continue making progress in the process of national dialogue."

But the United States said that the expression of "support" for the continuation of the "national dialogue" implied support for Maduro's proposed Peace Conference "orchestrated by just one side" in the dispute, something that violates "the responsibility of the OAS to remain neutral."

The statement offers only one-sided support for a dialogue sponsored by the government but rejected by large sectors of the opposition, the United States said in a footnote.

Since Feb. 12, Venezuela has experienced a wave of protests against the government that in some cases have turned violent, leaving at least 19 dead, 318 wounded and 1,103 people under arrest, according to official figures. EFE