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Venezuela death toll mounts in growing unrest

Published on Feb 22, 2014 7:13 AM
 
A man holds a Venezuelan national flag next to a barricade during an anti-government demo, in Caracas on Feb 21, 2014. The death toll from escalating anti-government protests in Venezuela jumped to eight on Friday, as President Nicolas Maduro's leftist administration threatened to cut off fuel to areas "under fascist siege." -- PHOTO: AFP

CARACAS (AFP) - The death toll from escalating anti-government protests in Venezuela jumped to eight on Friday, as President Nicolas Maduro's leftist administration threatened to cut off fuel to areas "under fascist siege."

Students and the opposition are spearheading a movement that has spiraled into the biggest challenge for Maduro since he was narrowly elected last year after the death of Hugo Chavez, with 137 people wounded and more than 100 detained since the demonstrations broke out this month.

The protesters are agitating against a government that has the world's largest proven oil reserves, but which has also overseen deteriorating economic conditions, rampant street crime, corruption and increasingly dire job prospects.

The nationwide unrest has spilled into Venezuela's international relations, with US President Barack Obama calling on the government to address the "legitimate grievances" of its people, while Maduro has threatened to block American broadcaster CNN, accusing the network of inciting "civil war."

 
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