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Venezuelan leader rules out amnesty for "political prisoners"

Caracas, Dec 30 (EFE).- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he would not grant amnesty for any of the country's "political prisoners," but said the courts could rule such humanitarian measures. "I have the authority to order pardons for (people convicted of) crimes," on condition that no "crimes against humanity" are involved, the head of state told a press conference.

Venezuela says murder rate plunges under Maduro

By Andrew Cawthorne and Patricia Velez CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's murder rate has fallen by about a quarter this year, the government says, dismissing opponents' talk of ever-rising crime as propaganda. Violent crime has been Venezuelans' No. 1 concern in recent years. Awash with guns, the South American nation is one of the world's most violent, with an official homicide rate of about 52 per 100,000 people last year, or more than 15,000 victims.

Venezuela's socialists win majority in local polls

By Daniel Wallis and Andrew Cawthorne CARACAS (Reuters) - President Nicolas Maduro's government won a majority of votes in Venezuela's local elections on Sunday, disappointing the opposition and helping his quest to preserve the late Hugo Chavez's socialist legacy. With votes in from three-quarters of the nation's 337 mayoral races, the ruling party and allies had combined 49.2 percent support, compared with the opposition coalition and its partners' 42.7 percent, the election board said.

Venezuelans vote in local polls that test Chavez legacy

By Daniel Wallis CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelans vote in municipal elections on Sunday that are the biggest political test yet for President Nicolas Maduro as he tries to halt an economic slide and preserve the radical socialist legacy of his late mentor Hugo Chavez. The outcome of the ballots to choose 337 mayors and 2,523 councilors will be seen as a sign of Maduro's strength, nine months after Chavez died from cancer and he narrowly beat opposition leader Henrique Capriles to win the presidency.

Venezuela blacked out by huge power cut

Caracas and other cities in Venezuela plunged into darkness Monday night as a power cut hit just as the president was speaking on TV and radio, with local elections five days away. President Nicolas Maduro, who was elected in n April after the death of Hugo Chavez, later blamed the backout on the "fascist right." He called it "live sabotage on the electrical grid." Maduro, a former union leader and bus driver, is struggling to establish the stature and following enjoyed by his political mentor Chavez, who died of cancer in March.

Venezuela's Maduro threatens arrests over prices

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro vowed Friday to arrest shopkeepers who defy government price controls, the latest salvo in a populist "economic war" ahead of key municipal elections. Maduro delivered the warning in a nationally televised address that laid the ground for tougher enforcement of a three-week-old crackdown on actions seen as fueling Venezuela's soaring inflation.

Venezuela acuses US of interference in its affairs

Venezuela accused the United States of "interference" in its internal affairs Thursday after Washington expressed concern that President Nicolas Maduro had been granted powers to rule by decree. In a statement, the Foreign Ministry declared its "most profound, categorical and energetic rejection" of Wednesday's comments by State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

Venezuela leader says to decree two economic laws on Thursday

CARACAS (Reuters) - President Nicolas Maduro said he would use newly granted powers to decree two laws on Thursday to cap retailers' profits and reorganize the distribution of foreign currency in Venezuela's troubled economy. Parliament passed an Enabling Law this week allowing Maduro to emulate his predecessor, the late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, and rule by decree for one year.

Venezuela fines General Motors over spare parts' prices

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's socialist government said on Tuesday it was fining the local subsidiary of General Motors <GM.N> nearly $85,000 for allegedly selling spare parts at exorbitant prices. The measure came as part of an aggressive drive by President Nicolas Maduro's government to tackle Venezuela's high inflation rate by forcing businesses to lower prices.

Venezuela's Congress set to approve decree powers for Maduro

By Andrew Cawthorne and Brian Ellsworth CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's parliament looked set on Tuesday to grant President Nicolas Maduro year-long decree powers he says are needed to regulate the economy and stamp out corruption but adversaries view as a thinly veiled power grab. The National Assembly was expected to give final approval to the controversial Enabling Law at its afternoon session after Maduro garnered the two-thirds, or 99 votes, needed during a preliminary debate last week.
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