Little carnival celebration as tension escalates in Venezuela

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As anti-government clashes continue throughout Venezuela, shortages of basic foodstuffs and other supplies are becoming more and more acute.

Barricades block streets in parts of the capital Caracas, where protesters threw Molotov cocktails, as well as stones and bottles, at security forces.

They are angry about the lack of supplies, the country’s significant crime rate and an inflation high of 56 percent in 2013.

In return, the security forces used tear gas and water cannons to deter the demonstrators.

Up to eighteen people have reportedly been killed since the clashes began on February 12.

“There is no food here, there are shortages. No one can feel safe their own home when the authorities pass by killing people left and right,” said protester Kevin Orozco. “We have to keep fighting for freedom,” he continued.

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro condemned the violent nature of the protests.

“All these things the protesters are doing are to provoke a violent reaction from the security forces, from the people,” he said. “Our patience is running out. They want us to enter into a state of collective neurosis, of collective hatred and the use of force to become the only way to respond, the only language to communicate in.”

Hoping to calm the rising tension, Maduro extended the national Carnival holiday to include Thursday and Friday, although business leaders say this was a mistake.

“Six days off work is a delicate proposition, when we look at the empty shelves,” said Carlos Larrazabal, vice president of the national business lobby group Fedecamaras.

Protesters say they won’t be celebrating but will instead stay on the streets to support those clashing with security forces.

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