POLITICS

Group Of 14 In Congress Side With Obama In Opposing Sanctions Against Venezuela

CARACAS, VENEZUELA - MARCH 02:  Thousands of protesters march in one of the largest anti-government demonstrations yet on March 2, 2014 in Caracas, Venezuela. Venezuela has one of the highest inflation rates in the world, and opposition supporters have protested for almost three weeks, virtually paralyzing business in much of the country.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

CARACAS, VENEZUELA - MARCH 02: Thousands of protesters march in one of the largest anti-government demonstrations yet on March 2, 2014 in Caracas, Venezuela. Venezuela has one of the highest inflation rates in the world, and opposition supporters have protested for almost three weeks, virtually paralyzing business in much of the country. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)  (2014 Getty Images)

A day before the issue is to come to a vote in the House of Representatives, 14 Democratic members of Congress have sent a letter to President Obama saying they agree with his opposition to U.S. sanctions against Venezuela.

The bipartisan congressional bill instructs the Obama administration to compile a list of human rights abusers in the Venezuelan government, freeze their assets and ban them from the United States.

Foreign Relations' committees in the House and Senate have overwhelmingly approved it.

Administration officials are opposed. They say sanctions risk undermining mediation efforts in Venezuela and straining relations between the U.S. and Latin American partners.

The Democrats led by Michigan Rep. John Conyers wrote a letter to Obama Tuesday backing his administration. They also urged an exchange of ambassadors with Venezuela after a four-year hiatus.

Violent unrest has gripped Venezuela for months. Forty-two people have been killed since February.

Last week, South American governments denounced the 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.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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