Ambassadors from the South American regional bloc UNASUR rejected a bill in the US Senate which would impose sanctions on Venezuelan officials accused of participating in abuses against opposition protestors, saying the proposal would constitute an intervention in Venezuelan internal affairs and pose “an obstacle for the people of Venezuela,” according to El Universal. Venezuela applauded UNASUR for its evaluation and on Friday went a step further, filing a denouncement of the US government before the bloc’s ambassadors and saying it had been the object of “an attempt at a violent overthrowing."

The sanctions bill, which would freeze assets and travel visas for top Venezuelan officials said to be involved in abuses, passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday and will soon come to a vote in the full Senate. Sponsored by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), it has been promoted most vigorously by co-sponsor Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who has attacked the Venezuelan president and national assembly head in a series of floor speeches on the subject. The first item in the bill’s list of findings refers to the country’s rate of inflation, which reached over 56 percent in the past year.

UNASUR, composed of governments on friendly or neutral terms with that of Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro -- and in some cases, led by leftists of a similar pedigree -- has backed Maduro’s government throughout the protests even as it encourages dialogue with the opposition. But human rights groups have denounced widespread abuses of opposition protestors by security forces. A recent report by Human Rights Watch concluded that members of the Venezuelan judiciary and attorney general’s office knew about or were involved in 45 cases of human rights violations committed against over 150 people, including at least 10 cases of torture.

Some members of the opposition and human rights activists regard US sanctions with trepidation, saying it would play into the hands of Maduro and other government leaders who seek to discredit opposition protestors as puppets of US interests. And the sanctions would almost certainly cause already-dubious negotiations with an opposition coalition and the government to fizzle. The Obama administration has sought to put the brakes on the process, at least while talks continue, but as NBC reported last week, State Department officials privately acknowledge that it will be tough for Obama to resist signing a bill that has garnered considerable bipartisan enthusiasm if it does come to his desk.