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Venezuela Gripped by Weeks of Anti-Government Protest

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Widespread demonstrations against Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro's government have become increasingly violent, leading to as many as 14 deaths. The protests began earlier this month as student groups voiced anger at the lack of security, high inflation, and more. Peaceful protests were met with harsh resistance, including gunfire. The ranks of the demonstrators swelled shortly after, as a broad dissatisfaction with the government and its handling of the current crisis brought thousands more to the streets - calling for Maduro to step down. Both sides appear to be digging in for the long run, as outside governments and groups call for calm and dialogue. Be sure to also see Moisés Naím's article The Tragedy of Venezuela. [40 photos]

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In Caracas, Venezuela, a demonstrator holds a street sign to shield himself as he stands amid a cloud of tear gas during a protest against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, on February 22, 2014. Starting earlier this month as a student-led protest against a lack of security, high inflation, and more, the protests have grown into a broad anti-government movement seeking the ouster of Maduro -- sometimes meeting violent resistance, resulting in at least 13 deaths. (Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)
In Caracas, Venezuela, a demonstrator holds a street sign to shield himself as he stands amid a cloud of tear gas during a protest against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, on February 22, 2014. Starting earlier this month as a student-led protest against a lack of security, high inflation, and more, the protests have grown into a broad anti-government movement seeking the ouster of Maduro -- sometimes meeting violent resistance, resulting in at least 13 deaths. (Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)
Demonstrators block a street with signs as they shout anti-government slogans to protest the detention of four students in Caracas, Venezuela, on February 8, 2014. The detained students were arrested in Tachira state on Friday while protesting crime. The protests were part of a civil movement called "Street with no return" that called for street protests against the government of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro. (AP Photo/Alejandro Cegarra) #
A student passes by burnt CICPC (Scientific Police) cars during a demonstration against the government in Caracas, on February 12, 2014. Unidentified assailants on a motorcycle fired into a crowd of anti-government protesters, leaving at least two people wounded and a pro-government man dead. (Leo Ramirez/AFP/Getty Images) #
A demonstrator jumps on a shield wall formed by riot police during a protest against President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, on February 12, 2014. (Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins) #
Students clash with National Guards members during an opposition demonstration against President Maduro, in Caracas, on February 12, 2014. (Leo Ramirez/AFP/Getty Images) #
A demonstrator is detained after jumping over a riot police line in Caracas, on February 12, 2014. (Reuters/Jorge Silva) #
Plainclothes and uniformed police officers detain a protester after clashes broke out between opposition members, security forces and pro-government supporters in Caracas, on February 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Alejandro Cegarra) #
Bystanders take cover from the violence on the street after clashes broke out between opposition protesters, security forces and pro-government supporters in Caracas, on February 12, 2014. Violence erupted when unidentified attackers arrived on motorcycles and opened fire on the opposition protesters. (AP Photo/Alejandro Cegarra) #
Police officers clash with opposition demonstrators in Caracas, on February 12, 2014. (Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins) #
Student Bassil DaCosta is helped during an opposition demonstration against President Maduro, in Caracas, on February 12, 2014. DaCosta and a unidentified member of the pro-government group Juan Montoya were shot dead. (Manaure Quintero/AFP/Getty Images) #
Bassil DaCosta, who was shot in the head, is carried away after clashes broke out between opposition protesters, security forces and pro-government supporters during a protest in Caracas, on February 12, 2014. Armed members of a pro-government vigilante group arrived on motorcycles and began firing on more than 100 anti-Maduro student protesters clashing with security forces. (AP Photo/Alejandro Cegarra) #
A demonstrator walks past burning barricades during a protest in Caracas, on February 14, 2014. Demonstrators were protesting the earlier killings of two university students who were shot in different incidents following an anti-government protest. Venezuelan security forces backed by water tanks and tear gas dispersed large groups of anti-government demonstrators who blocked Caracas' main highway. (AP Photo/Alejandro Cegarra) #
A student flashes a thumbs up and shakes the hand of a police officer during a protest in Caracas, on February 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Alejandro Cegarra) #
Demonstrators stand on a bridge and another group before a cordon of riot police blocking passage to the main highway during a protest in Caracas, on February 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) #
Thousand of anti-government students lie on the ground during a protest in front of the Venezuelan Judiciary building in Caracas, on February 15, 2014. (Leo Ramirez/AFP/Getty Images) #
An opposition demonstrator shouts for the National Bolivarian Police (BNP) to not fire tear gas at them as a member of the force, right, gestures after his superior ordered them to hold their fire, during clashes in Caracas, on February 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) #
A riot policeman shoots tear gas during clashes with anti-government students holding a protest, in Caracas on February 15, 2014. Supporters and opponents of Venezuela's leftist government staged dueling rallies in Caracas and other cities in the latest public displays of discontent at soaring inflation and basic goods shortages. (Leo Ramirez/AFP/Getty Images) #
An opposition demonstrator confronts riot police in Caracas, on February 15, 2014. (Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins) #
Leopoldo Lopez, an ardent opponent of Venezuela's socialist government, facing an arrest warrant after President Nicolas Maduro ordered his arrest on charges of homicide and inciting violence, is surrounded by supporters as he stands at the monument of Cuba's most important independence-era hero, Jose Marti, before turning himself in to authorities during a demonstration in Caracas, on February 18, 2014. (Raul Arboleda/AFP/Getty Images) #
Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, holding up a flower stem, is taken into custody by Bolivarian National Guards, in Caracas, on February 18, 2014. Lopez re-emerged from days of hiding to address an anti-government demonstration and then he turned himself in to authorities. Speaking to some 5,000 supporters with a megaphone, Lopez said that he doesn't fear going to jail to defend his beliefs and constitutional right to peacefully protest against President Nicolas Maduro. (AP Photo/Alejandro Cegarra) #
Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez enters a National Guard armored vehicle in Caracas, on February 18, 2014. Lopez, wanted on charges of fomenting deadly violence, handed himself over to security forces, Reuters witnesses said. (Reuters/Jorge Silva) #
Opposition supporters stand over a monument of a military vehicle which they dragged into the middle of the street during a protest against Nicolas Maduro's government in San Cristobal, some 410 miles (660 km) southwest of Caracas, on February 19, 2014. (Reuters/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez) #
A protester wearing a gas mask made from plastic water bottles, during an opposition protest blocking a highway outside La Carlota airport in Caracas, on February 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) #
Genesis Carmona is driven away on a motorcycle after she was wounded during an anti-government protest in Valencia, Venezuela, on February 18, 2014. Carmona was allegedly struck by a bullet Tuesday when unknown gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on opposition protesters, said Enzo Scrano, mayor of a Valencia district. (AP Photo/Diario Notitarde, Mauricio Centeno) #
People protesting against President Maduro face National police officers during a demonstration in Caracas, on February 21, 2014. (Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images) #
Protesters confront riot policemen during an anti-government demonstration, in Caracas, on February 19, 2014. (Leo Ramirez/AFP/Getty Images) #
A demonstrator stands with his arms up as a water canon sprays him and tear gas spills onto the street, fired by the National Bolivarian Police (BNP), in Plaza Francia in Caracas, on February 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) #
Genesis Carmona (carried on motorcycle in photo #24 above), a local beauty queen and college student, posing for a picture in Puerto Cabello back in May of 2012. Carmona died of her gunshot wound on February 19, 2014, the fifth fatality of Venezuela's political unrest. (Reuters/Stringer) #
Objects placed by opposition protesters block a road in the Altamira neighborhood of Caracas, on February 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) #
Anti-government protestors gather for a rally in Caracas, on February 22, 2014. Venezuelans on both sides of the nation's political divide took to the streets on Saturday after nearly two weeks of mass protests that have President Nicolas Maduro scrambling to reassert his leadership. (AP Photo/Carlos Becerra) #
People attend a march against the government of President Maduro in San Cristobal, capital of the western border state of Tachira, Venezuela, on February 22, 2014. Most of the stores were closed for fear of unrest in San Cristobal. Maduro's administration threatened to cut off fuel to areas they deemed "under fascist siege." (Luis Robayo/AFP/Getty Images) #
Members of the national police confront demonstrators during a protest in Caracas, on February 22, 2014. Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets of Caracas in marches for and against Maduro's government, as the nation's massive divide became ever more evident. (Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images) #
A woman, her face painted in the colors of the Venezuelan national flag, attends a protest against the government of President Maduro in Caracas, on February 22, 2014. (Raul Arboleda/AFP/Getty Images) #
Neighbors of retired Army General Angel Vivas force security agents to leave the neighborhood after they failed to arrest him at his home in Caracas, on February 23, 2014. President Maduro ordered the arrest and investigation of the retired general for his statements on YouTube and Twitter. Maduro said Vivas is instigating violence at a time when two weeks of anti-government protests have left 10 dead and over 100 wounded. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) #
Retired Venezuelan Army General Angel Vivas, armed and wearing a flak jacket, walks on his property in Caracas, on February 23, 2014, after President Maduro ordered his arrest. Vivas has been an opponent of the Venezuelan government since his 2007 resignation as director of the Ministry of Defense Engineering, due to the military's adoption of the slogan "Fatherland, socialism or death, we shall overcome," created in Cuba. (AP Photo/Juan Manuel Hernandez) #
Demonstrators wear masks as they protest against President Maduro in Caracas, on February 24, 2014. (Raul Arboleda/AFP/Getty Images) #
Carmen Gonzalez cries over the body of her son, Jimmy Vargas, a student who died during a protest, at a hospital in San Cristobal, Venezuela, on February 24, 2014. Anti-government demonstrators set up barricades and started fires in Caracas on Monday despite calls from within the opposition to rein in protests that have led to 13 deaths in Venezuela's worst unrest for a decade. (Reuters/Stringer) #
Thouisands take part in a protest against President Maduro in Caracas, on February 26, 2014. Venezuela's opposition refused to take part in talks that were called by the government in a bid to halt three weeks of protests that have left 14 dead and raised alarm in South America, the United States and Europe. (Leo Ramirez/AFP/Getty Images) #
Venezuelan arrested opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez's wife, Lilian Tintori (center), holds flowers during a protest against the government of President Maduro in Caracas, on February 26, 2014. (Leo Ramirez/AFP/Getty Images) #
A demonstrator stands guard with a rudimentary mortar in front of a burning barricade during protests against Maduro's government in San Cristobal, on February 26, 2014. Pope Francis called on Wednesday for an end to violence in Venezuela that has killed at least 14 people and urged politicians to take the lead in calming the nation's worst unrest for a decade. (Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins) #

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