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Venezuela says street protests have caused $10 bln in damage - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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epa04135625 A woman sits in front of a graffitti saying: 'Fight for your freedom' during a demonstration against the Venezuelan government of Nicolás Maduro at Altamira square in Caracas, Venezuela, on March 21, 2014.  (EPA/SANTI DONAIRE)

epa04135625 A woman sits in front of a graffitti saying ‘Fight for your freedom’ during a demonstration against the government of Nicolás Maduro at Altamira square in Caracas, Venezuela, on March 21, 2014. (EPA/SANTI DONAIRE)

Caracas, Reuters—Venezuela’s president said on Friday that street protests for the past month have caused at least 10 billion dollars in damage, accusing hardline foes of carrying out terrorist acts to sabotage public assets.

President Nicolás Maduro did not say how the government arrived at that figure from the clashes between demonstrators barricading roads, pro-government radicals and security forces that have killed at least 31 people.

“The minority who want a coup have done so much damage to the country . . . they burned a public university where hundreds of young people studied,” he said in a nationally televised speech.

“This isn’t protest. It’s vandalism. It’s terrorism.”

Maduro was referring to a military college affiliated with the Venezuelan armed forces that authorities say was torched by demonstrators in the western city of San Cristóbal, near the border with Colombia.

San Cristóbal has been harder hit by the violence than anywhere else since the protests began early last month. On Wednesday, intelligence agents arrested the city’s opposition mayor and accused him of “civil rebellion.”

The Supreme Court has ordered the mayors of several opposition-run municipalities to dismantle street barricades set up by protesters that have become flashpoints for clashes.

One opposition mayor from central Carabobo state was jailed for 10 months for failing to comply with a similar order.

The protesters say they want political change and an end to high inflation, shortages of basic foods such as milk and flour, and one of the highest rates of violent crime in the world.

Supporters of both camps plan to march in the capital, Caracas, on Saturday in the latest of daily rallies around the polarized country.

The protesters are demanding Maduro resign, while he says “fascists” want a coup like the one 12 years ago that briefly ousted his predecessor, the late Hugo Chávez.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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