US senators condemn political violence in Venezuela

Seven US senators from both parties introduced a bill condemning violence against the opposition in Venezuela, calling for dialogue after a contested election.

The senators lamented "growing political polarization" in Venezuela after the April vote in which President Nicolas Maduro narrowly beat out opposition leader Henrique Capriles.

Maduro was the hand-picked successor of long-time Venezuela leader, leftist firebrand Hugo Chavez, who died in March.

Street violence, marches and counter-marches, and bitter exchanges of insults followed Maduro's slender victory, and, though they have eased, Capriles is still awaiting the outcome of a court challenge to the results.

Bill co-sponsor Robert Menendez called on Maduro's goverment to "recognize the legitimacy" and concerns of the opposition.

The New Jersey democrat, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations committee urged the ruling party to "refrain from tactics of violence and intimidation."

Republican Marco Rubio, also a sponsor of the proposal, said "freedom and democracy in Venezuela were under constant attack under the nation's last strongman, and things have not gotten any better under his successor."

Along with Menendez and Rubio, Democrats Tom Udall and Bill Nelson and Republicans John McCain, Mark Kirk and Tim Kaine were behind the proposal.