martes, 25 de febrero de 2014

Death toll rises in weeks of Venezuelan protests

The death toll from intermittent protests in Venezuela that began in early February and intensified on 12 February stood at 13 or 14 by 25 February. Government opponents were meanwhile contrasting the hundreds of reported arrests and use of force on demonstrators with President Nicolás Maduro's calls for internal peace talks. Over 500 were being held and 150 people injured in the protests, Reuters agency reported on 25 February. A march was apparently planned for 25 February and Agence France-Presse reported "hundreds" of students advancing toward the Cuban embassy in Caracas early that day; Cuba is a firm ally of the Maduro government. On 24 February Mr Maduro invited elected opposition officials to attend the meeting of a state council the next day, making contacts possible, but the invitation was later rejected by a leading opponent, the Governor of the state of Miranda Henrique Capriles. He said he was not going to go and "whitewash" the President amid a repressive atmosphere, El Universal reported. "The Government is provoking the political crisis, because it believes it can resolve the economic crises with bullets," Mr Capriles told a press conference. The Presidential palace he said, "is not the setting for calling for peace...you want to call on sectors to discuss peace from the headquarters of repression? Who can believe this is sincere?" The United States separately ordered three Venezuelan diplomats expelled on 25 February, retaliating for the earlier expulsion of three US diplomats from Caracas, the broadcaster Globovisión reported. Media were expecting President Maduro to name a new ambassador to the US that day, in spite of tensions and his allegations that the US was encouraging unrest in Venezuela.

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