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Tres Más Muertos: Three More Killed in Venezuela Protests

A firecracker explodes at the scene of protests in Caracas, Venezuela. Photograph: Esteban Felix/AP

A firecracker explodes at the scene of protests in Caracas, Venezuela. Photograph: Esteban Felix/AP

Shootings in Caracas, Valencia and San Cristobal amid clashes between demonstrators, security forces and armed gangs

Three Venezuelans have died from gunshot wounds during protests against socialist President Nicolás Maduro, witnesses and local media have said, pushing the death toll to 34 from almost two months of demonstrations that have been answered with deadly force from both security forces and armed pro-government gangs.

“…Bus driver Wilfredo Rey, 31, died on Friday night after being shot in the head during a confrontation between demonstrators and hooded gunmen…”

Troops briefly clashed with a small group of protesters who attempted to block a highway in an upscale neighborhood of Caracas after thousands of opposition supporters marched to demand the release of students imprisoned during the unrest.

“…Jesus Labrador was hit by a bullet on Saturday in the Andean city of Merida during a shootout between armed protesters burning tires and hooded gunmen on motorcycle…”

Demonstrators complaining of soaring prices and product shortages have vowed to remain in the streets until Maduro resigns, although there are few signs that the country’s worst turmoil in a decade will force him from office.

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Rock the House: Hugo Chavez’s Daughters Refuse to Leave Presidential Party Palace

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez (C) poses for a picture with his family while recovering in La Habana March 13, 2012. Chavez said he will return home from Cuba where he is recovering from cancer surgery next Sunday, to head up a re-election campaign. REUTERS/Handout/Miraflores Palace (CUBA -Tags: - Tags: POLITICS) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS - RTR2ZAC6

The late dictator’s children won’t move out of the president’s official residence, which is filled with antiques and priceless art

It’s hard times in Venezuela these days. The economy is in shambles, crime is spiraling, and the opposition is leading increasingly strident protests on the streets. To make matters worse, President Nicolás Maduro can’t even deal with the crisis from the comforts of the presidential palace.

Hugo Chavez's daughter Maria Gabriela tears up as her late father receives a posthumous award. (AFP/Getty Images/Leo Ramirez)

Hugo Chavez’s daughter Maria Gabriela  (AFP/Getty Images/Leo Ramirez)

Constitutionally, of course, Maduro has been able live in La Casona, a luxurious villa in the heart of the capital, since he was sworn in last year. The only problem: Almost a year after Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chávez, passed away, his three grown children—Maria Gabriela, Rosa Virginia and Hugo Jr.—are still living in the villa. Apparently, they have no intention of leaving.

La Casona (Wikipedia)

The two daughters have allegedly converted La Casona into a social club for friends of the family. According to recent media reports, neighbors complain of “deafening” parties. Fast-food restaurants and catering agencies refuse to deliver to the mansion, allegedly, because the Chávez kids have stopped paying their bills. Even concert organizers are complaining; Chavez’s daughters allegedly force them to hand over dozens of free tickets so they can share them with their friends. (Both the country’s Information Ministry and the Chávez family were unavailable for comment.)

Originally built in colonial times, the glamorous La Casona residence was acquired by the government in the 1960s, during the presidency of Raúl Leoni. The mansion features six main bedrooms and several more for guests. There’s a swimming pool, a private movie theater and a series of private gardens.

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Venezuelan Regime Raids Homes Searching for Opposition Leader Amid Violent Protests

leopold-lopez-Reuters

Frances Martel  reports:  Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro has a violent situation on his hands, as protests against the socialist regime escalate and the death toll rises. Reuters reports that protesters have vowed to continue until Maduro resigns, but Maduro has only escalated the oppression, raiding Caracas homes in search of opposition leader Leopoldo López.

[The Dictator’s Learning Curve at Amazon]

The streets of Caracas–already among the world’s most violent thanks to more than a decade of rule under Hugo Chávez–were aflame this weekend as Venezuelans used the national “Youth Day” holiday to trigger protests against the socialist dictatorship this weekend. This Youth Day, a holiday celebrating a battle of independence against Spain, three student protesters were reported dead and 23 injured thanks to government violence. The protest itself was peaceful; violence began when it culminated and police agitated the remaining protesters.

“I tell you, Maduro, you are a coward. You will not force my family nor myself to submit. To my family: Strength, I love you”

López tweeted yesterday. He also posted a video describing the protest and the next steps for his supporters…

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Venezuela: Where The Mafia And The Military Come Together

 Members of the National Guard near the Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela. (GETTY IMAGES)

Members of the National Guard near the Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela. (GETTY IMAGES)

Fermín Lares  reports:  For the Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, the murder of a former beauty queen wasn’t so much a tragedy as an opportunity. Although Venezuelans have become accustomed to violent crime – at an annual average of 79 per 100,000, the country has the world’s highest homicide rate after Honduras – the horrific murders in Carabobo, involving as they did a much-loved celebrity and her family, convulsed the entire nation in shock. Enter Maduro, who loudly declared that he would use an “iron fist” against Venezuelan criminals.

[See also:  Venezuela Jails 100 ‘Bourgeois, Barbaric, Capitalist Parasite’ Businessmen in Crackdown]

Sure enough, within days of the killings, seven men said to belong to a gang known as “Los sanguinarios del Cambur”  (“The bloodthirsty ones of Cambur”) were in custody. But if Maduro was expecting plaudits from a country whose citizens are even more fiercely divided than during the rule of his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, he must have been sorely disappointed. The swift response of the authorities in the Monica Spear case was a stark contrast to the thousands of other murders – there were a total of 24,763 murders in 2013 alone, according to the independent Venezuelan Observatory of Violence (OVV) – that are seldom investigated or resolved.

To the casual observer, it is not immediately clear how the various strands that compose Venezuela’s current economic and political crisis relate to this fundamental breakdown of law and order. What therefore needs to be understood is that, after 15 years of Chavista misrule, the Venezuelan state is not an enemy of the criminal networks that have conquered the country, but their ally.

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Venezuela Jails 100 ‘Bourgeois, Barbaric, Capitalist Parasite’ Businessmen in Crackdown: Obama Observes Wistfully, Longingly…

Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters/Reuters

“Bourgeois, Barbaric, Capitalist Parasites! Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters

Andrew Cawthorne and Deisy Buitrago report:  Venezuela‘s socialist government has arrested more than 100 “bourgeois” businessmen in a crackdown on alleged price-gouging at hundreds of shops and companies since the weekend, President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday.

“They are barbaric, these capitalist parasites!” Maduro thundered in the latest of his lengthy daily speeches. “We have more than 100 of the bourgeoisie behind bars at the moment.”

The successor to the late Hugo Chavez also said his government was preparing a law to limit Venezuelan businesses’ profits to between 15 percent and 30 percent.

*Sigh*

*Sigh*

Officials say unscrupulous companies have been hiking prices of electronics and other goods more than 1,000 percent. Critics say failed socialist economic policies and restricted access to foreign currency are behind Venezuela’s runaway inflation.

Goodyear has to lower its prices even more, 15 percent is not enough, the inspectors have go there straightaway,” Maduro said in his evening address, sending officials to check local operations of the U.S.-based tire manufacturer.

Since the weekend, soldiers and inspectors have gone into 1,400 shops, taken over operations at an electronics firm and a battery-making company, and rounded up a handful of looters.

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