Washington's UN envoy urges action on Venezuela crisis

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United Nations (United States) (AFP)

US Ambassador Nikki Haley on Thursday called for international action to address the crisis in Venezuela, after a US-backed proposal for regional mediation failed to win support at the Organization of American States.

"The tragic situation in Venezuela calls out for action," Haley said in a statement a day after the meeting of the 34-nation OAS in Mexico.

"The Venezuelan people are starving while their government tramples their democracy," she said.

"The international community must act even if the UN Human Rights Council and the Organization of American States are blocked from doing so."

During the three-day OAS meeting, the US-backed proposal for regional mediation failed to overcome opposition from President Nicolas Maduro's regional allies and Caribbean countries that benefit from discounted Venezuelan oil.

Haley did not provide details on further action, but in May the United States called for a meeting of the UN Security Council on Venezuela, the first time that the top UN body addressed the crisis.

On Thursday, there was however no US request for a council meeting on Venezuela, where running street battles at anti-government protests have left 74 people dead since April.

Maduro's opponents are demanding elections as the country, pummeled by the plunge in oil prices since mid-2014, faces a crippling shortages of food, medicine and other basic essentials.

At the OAS meeting, a draft resolution on sending regional mediators to Venezuela fell three votes shy of the 23 it needed to be adopted by the 34-nation bloc.

"The 'contact group' you're proposing is completely useless and unnecessary," said Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez.

"The only way you could impose it would be to send in your Marines -- who would meet with a crushing response from Venezuela if they dared make such a misstep."