US Secretary of State John Kerry voiced alarm Saturday at "senseless violence" that has broken out during protests in Venezuela and heavily criticized the detention of anti-government demonstrators.
With supporters and opponents of President Nicolas Maduro's leftist government staging rival rallies in Caracas, following protests over soaring inflation and basic goods shortages, Kerry said he was deeply concerned.
"We are particularly alarmed by reports that the Venezuelan government has arrested or detained scores of anti-government protesters and issued an arrest warrant for opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez," the top US diplomat said in a statement.
"These actions have a chilling effect on citizens' rights to express their grievances peacefully," it added.
On Saturday, the anti-government protesters demanded the release of about 100 detained students and other opposition activists, and called for an end to police repression on what is now the 12th day of street protests.