BRAZILIA: South American regional grouping Mercosur on Thursday urged Venezuela's embattled government to free "political prisoners."
"At Mercosur we reiterate our call for respect for human rights, freedom for political prisoners and rapid adoption of an electoral calendar that guarantees an open, transparent process," Argentinian President Mauricio Macri said at a summit in Brasilia.
Brazilian President Michel Temer said Mercosur, which suspended Venezuela's membership earlier this year, "is on the side of freedom of expression, separation of powers, and human rights."
"Once Venezuela returns to democracy, it can also return to Mercosur," Temer said.
Oil-rich Venezuela is paralyzed by economic collapse and conflict between President Nicolas Maduro and opposition forces which accuse him of dismantling democratic institutions.
Once Latin America's richest country thanks to its vast oil reserves, it is now on the brink of default after a long slide into penury that has seen supplies of food and medicine become scarce and hundreds of thousands emigrating.
Mercosur includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.