Barred from Venezuela, European lawmakers call for action

MADRID (AP) — Conservative European lawmakers who were barred from entering Venezuela this weekend are urging the European Union's top diplomat to suspend contacts with Nicolas Maduro's government.

Esteban Gonzalez Pons, the head of the European Popular Party parliamentary group, is also calling for European sanctions against Venezuela's foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, who had ordered that the lawmakers should be barred on the grounds that they were conspiring against the government.

The five visitors were invited by the opposition-led congress led by Juan Guaido, whom the European Parliament and a majority of the EU's members recognize as Venezuela's interim leader.

Speaking to reporters in Madrid on Monday after returning from Caracas, Gonzalez Pons said that the EU's foreign affairs commissioner, Federica Mogherini, should cancel the International Group of Contact that seeks talks in Venezuela.

He also called for the bloc's members to oust Maduro's ambassadors, and he vowed to return to Venezuela on Saturday.