Venezuela has condemned a U.S. State Department report that lists the country among those failing to combat human trafficking.
Venezuela's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday that the government will begin an investigation to "determine the responsibility" of U.S. Embassy officials in preparing such reports. It said such work would go beyond the normal diplomatic functions for which U.S. Embassy officials are accredited.
The statement came a day after the U.S. State Department included Venezuela among 23 nations that it said are failing to meet minimum international standards to combat human trafficking.
The State Department said that some Venezuelan women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking and forced prostitution, and that Venezuela is also a transit country for people from other countries who may be subjected to sexual exploitation and forced labor.
The Foreign Ministry said President Hugo Chavez's government "repudiates the hypocritical attitude of the government of the United States."
"That country holds the world record of trafficking in people, especially people from Latin America whose fundamental rights are violated systematically by authorities," the Foreign Ministry said.
Chavez has long been embroiled in tensions with Washington. Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said earlier this month that relations with the U.S. are frozen and that Venezuela sees no possibility of improving them.
Relations have grown particularly strained since the State Department imposed sanctions last month on the state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA for shipping fuel to Iran.