MIAMI, FL - MARCH 01: Dela Pozo (C) and other Venezuelans and their supporters show their support for the anti-government protests in Venezuela on March 1, 2014 in Miami, Florida. In Venezuela, protests over the past couple of weeks have resulted in violence as government opponents and supporters have faced off in the streets. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)2014 Getty Images
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- South American governments have rejected an effort by U.S. lawmakers to apply sanctions on Venezuela over human rights concerns.
Foreign ministers from the 12-member Union of South American Nations issued a statement Friday saying that the proposed legislation would constitute a violation of Venezuela's internal affairs and undermine attempts by regional diplomats and the Vatican to foster dialogue between the government and opposition.
Sanctions represent "an obstacle for the Venezuelan people can overcome their difficulties with independence, and in democratic peace," according to a statement after a meeting in the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador.
The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday is expected to debate a bipartisan bill that would order the Obama administration to ban visas and freeze the assets of Venezuelan officials who've committed abuses during the past three months of unrest. Similar legislation has already cleared the Senate foreign relations committee.
The Obama administration has condemned President Nicolas Maduro's crackdown on protests but wants to hold off on applying sanctions to give more time to dialogue.