U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Saturday issued a sharp rebuke of the government of Venezuela, condemning its "violent crackdown on protesters" and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's "disregard for the fundamental rights of his own people."
"The Maduro regime must respect Venezuela's constitution and the voice of its people," Haley said in a statement. "We are particularly concerned that the government is failing to provide basic food and medical needs to the Venezuelan people."
Haley's statement comes amid ongoing protests in Venezuela against its embattled president as the country's economic and political situation continues to deteriorate. Protesters have objected in large numbers to what they consider a number of injustices by the Maduro government, including the creation of a "constituent assembly" to rewrite the constitution.
The government has responded forcefully, and the total death toll has risen to at least 37 after a month of unrest. Hundreds have been arrested, with at least 152 remaining in prison, according to official tallies.
The U.S. is "closely monitoring reports about the conditions of Venezuelan political prisoners, particularly Leopoldo Lopez, held on trumped up charges by the government since 2014," Haley said. "We call on the Venezuelan government to immediately release all those unjustly detained."
Haley also called for the release of a U.S. citizen who is currently imprisoned in Venezuela.
"We are also troubled by reports about the health of those held in Venezuela's prisons, including U.S. citizen Joshua Holt," she said. "We again call on the Venezuelan government to release Mr. Holt on humanitarian grounds."
Haley was not the only U.S. official to address the ongoing crisis in Venezuela in recent days. On Friday, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster met with Julio Borges, the president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly. Borges and McMaster discussed the need for the release of political prisoners and free and democratic elections, according to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.