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Football star Maradona backs Venezuela's Maduro

Argentina's biggest football star Diego Maradona backed the country's president Nicolas Maduro.

Mr Maduro, a hand-picked successor to the late Hugo Chavez, is facing increasing pressure from the opposition.

President Nicolas Maduro and football start Diego maradona Credit: Reuters

"We're seeing all the lies that the imperialists are saying and inventing. I'm prepared to be a soldier for Venezuela in whatever is required," said Maradona, a friend of both Chavez and Cuban leader Fidel Castro, before declaring: "Long live Chavez, long live Maduro, long live Venezuela!"

The country's economic crisis and soaring crime have sparked anti-government protests last month.13 people have died, 500 people have been arrested and about 150 injured during riots in the past two weeks.


13 dead in anti-government protests in Venezuela

Protester throws stones at a motorcycle after the rider tried to pass a barrier. Credit: Reuters/Marco Bello

13 people have died as anti-government protests continue in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas.

Demonstrators put up barricades and set fire to cars and across the city, in protests against President Nicholas Maduro's 10-month-old government.

The graffiti reads: 'Maduro we are going for you.' Credit: Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins.

The government says 529 people have been charged over the unrest, with most given warnings but 45 kept behind bars.

About 150 people have been injured, authorities say.

Anti-government demonstrators run from tear gas during clashes in Caracas. Credit: Carlos Garcia Rawlins

US condemns Venezuela's 'unacceptable use of force'

US Secretary of State John Kerry has criticised Venezuela's "unacceptable" use of force against anti-government protesters and political figures.

Opposition supporters stand near a burning barricade at Altamira square in Caracas this week Credit: Reuters

"Despite calls from thatcountry’s democratic opposition and the international community, the Venezuelangovernment has confronted peaceful protesters with force and in some cases witharmed vigilantes claiming to support the government ...This is not howdemocracies behave," Kerry said.

"The government’s use of force and judicial intimidation against citizens and political figures, who are exercising a legitimate right to protest, is unacceptable and will only increase the likelihood of violence," he added.

He called on the Venezuelan government to release jailed dissidents "and initiate a process of genuine dialogue with the democratic opposition.

Woman dies amid 6 fatalities in Venezuela during unrest

Venezuelan state television has said that a woman died after an ambulance taking her to hospital was blocked by opposition protesters in Caracas, bring to six the number of fatalities in a week of political unrest.

VTV said the victim, the mother of a VTV employee, was being rushed to hospital when she suffered a heart attack as her ambulance became stuck in gridlock created by anti-government protesters blocking roads.

Venezuela expels three US officials amid protests

The Venezuelan government has expelled three American officials over allegations the US is conspiring with the country's opposition leader.

Anti-government demonstrators walk through tear gas in the Venezuelan capital Caracas. Credit: REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Venezuela's foreign minister Elias Jaua today repeated accusations made by President Nicolas Maduro that the US is conspiring with Leopoldo Lopez to oust the socialist president during ongoing protests.

Riot police pictured during the protest in Caracas. Credit: REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

"This independent Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela does not accept threats, blackmail or conditions of any kind from any foreign country," he said.

Riot police and protesters clashed again last night amid protests that have left three people dead. Credit: REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

The US has called the accusations "baseless and false".


UK man shot in Venezuela 'loved the country'

The British man who was shot dead on Monday in Venezuela "loved" his adopted country, but had narrowly escaped death in a similar incident in 2000, his friend and business partner Luis Dominguez said in an interview.

Thomas Henry Berry and his ex-wife were killed in front of their five-year-old daughter when their car broke down on a highway.

Ex-Miss Venezuela and British ex-husband shot dead

Monica Spear seen in 2004 the year she won the Miss Venezuela beauty pageant. Credit: Reuters

A former Miss Venezuela and her British ex-husband were shot dead after their car broke down in the country on Monday night. Their 5-year-old daughter survived the attack but was left with a bullet wound in her leg, the government and local media said.

Monica Spear, 29, who was also a soap opera actress, and Henry Berry, 39, died in an attempted robbery on the highway between Puerto Cabello and Valencia in central Venezuela.

The 2004 Miss Venezuela winner lived in the United States but was vacationing in her homeland.

The Foreign Office said they are, "aware of the death of a British national" and are providing consular assistance.

Venezuelan President to rule by decree

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro does not have to get the approval of congress to pass laws. Credit: PA

President Nicolas Maduro has been granted powers to rule by decree for a year, it was announced tonight.

The President said he needed the powers to fix the economy, but adversaries regard this as a power grab.

Maduro now has the power to pass laws without the approval of the Venezulan congress or a second democratic party.

Speaking to a crowd of supporters after the victory, Maduro said: "I want to thank the majority of patriotic and socialist lawmakers for approving this law that will let us advance, over the next 12 months, in defeating the economic war being waged against our people.

"Tonight has been a victory for the people! ... Who says the revolution is over?" he added, flanked by ministers, to applause from a crowd outside the Miraflores presidential palace.

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