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Amid protests, Venezuela to remember late Hugo Chavez

By Andrew Cawthorne and Girish Gupta CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela geared up on Tuesday for commemorations of socialist leader Hugo Chavez's death despite continued protests against his successor that have shaken the OPEC member and threatened the legacy of "El Comandante." Even as students maintained barricades in some cities and activists held new rallies, President Nicolas Maduro's government was making lavish plans to honor Chavez on Wednesday's anniversary of his death from cancer.

One year after Chavez, Venezuela gropes for way forward

Hugo Chavez, the charismatic ex-paratrooper who for 14 years drove a socialist-inspired revolution in oil-rich Venezuela, died one year ago -- and his deeply divided country is in crisis. Violent street protests that have left 18 dead, worsening living conditions and a darkening national mood have piled pressure on Chavez's handpicked successor, Nicolas Maduro, and raised ominous questions about where the country is headed.

Venezuelan turn to social media for protest news

Venezuelans seeking news about the country's roiling protests are increasingly turning to social media, circumventing traditional news outlets that have been stymied by the government. An avalanche of tweets, pictures and homemade video has been posted online since the eruption earlier this month of anti-government protests -- but local networks have only offered limited coverage. Social networking and video-sharing sites "have been playing a fundamental role, because television stations have been silenced" during the protests, sociologist Maryclen Stelling told AFP.

Venezuela's violent crime fuels the death business

By Andrew Cawthorne and Carlos Garcia Rawlins CARACAS (Reuters) - Strewn with smashed headstones, empty whisky bottles and the odd spent bullet casing, Caracas' 19th century Southern Cemetery is a sprawling symbol of the violent crime engulfing Venezuela. Grave diggers tell of attacks on mourners by gunmen from the surrounding slums, drug-fueled parties at tombs, and night-time desecration of graves to steal bones for rituals.

Venezuelan bond drop shows investor resolve cracked, not broken

By Daniel Bases NEW YORK (Reuters) - Venezuela's oil reserves, the world's largest, are giving debt investors comfort they will be repaid, even as anti-government protests send bond prices to levels akin to a nation in default. The sell-off in Venezuelan credit has pushed the yields on some of the OPEC nation's debt above 20 percent and raised the cost to insure a portfolio of bonds against default to its highest levels in nearly five years.

Venezuelans stage dueling protests

Supporters and opponents of Venezuela's leftist government staged dueling rallies Saturday in Caracas and other cities, in the latest wave of demonstrations that have left three people dead. Some 3,000 opponents dressed in white and carrying red, blue and yellow Venezuelan flags gathered in a posh neighborhood of the capital of the oil-rich but economically troubled nation. They filled a plaza in Caracas' Las Mercedes neighborhood and spilled out into nearby streets.

Venezuelans stage dueling protests

Supporters and opponents of Venezuela's leftist government staged dueling rallies Saturday in Caracas and other cities, in the latest wave of demonstrations that have left three people dead. Some 3,000 opponents dressed in white and carrying red, blue and yellow Venezuelan flags gathered in a posh neighborhood of the capital of the oil-rich but economically troubled nation. They filled a plaza in Caracas' Las Mercedes neighborhood and spilled out into nearby streets.

Rival protests jeer, cheer Venezuela economic policies

Thousands of opposition protesters and Chavez supporters took to the streets Wednesday in rival demonstrations over Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's handling of a deepening economic crisis. The Opec-member has been battered by inflation running at more than 50 percent a year, a shortage of hard currency, and dwindling supplies of consumer goods. Students, accompanied by several opposition politicians, converged in downtown Caracas to denounce the economic policies of Maduro, who succeeded the late Hugo Chavez as president last year.

Venezuela thrusts soap operas into firing line

Latin American soap operas watched by millions of people every day are feeding Venezuela's spiralling crime rate -- or so says President Nicolas Maduro. But while he accuses the wildly popular "telenovelas" of spreading negative values, his critics say he is grappling for excuses instead of taking responsibility. Venezuela's reputation as one of the most violent countries in the world was reinforced by the high-profile murder earlier this month of former beauty queen turned actress Monica Spear and her British-born partner on a deserted highway.

Venezuela shuffles economic team, keeps forex rate

By Eyanir Chinea and Brian Ellsworth CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro named an army general as the new finance minister in a reshuffle of his economic team on Wednesday and said there would be no currency devaluation this year despite a soaring black market for dollars. The cabinet changes do not suggest any major shift in the country's state-dominated economy, as the new economic team retains many of the same policy-makers that helped the late Hugo Chavez advance the OPEC nation's drive toward socialism.
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