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 Tuesday, 21 January, 2003, 07:17 GMT
Venezuela clashes turn deadly
National Guard troops outside RCTV broadcaster on Monday
Chavez has threatened to revoke broadcasting licences
One person has died and more than 20 have been injured in Venezuela on the 50th day of a general strike against President Hugo Chavez.

Violence broke out during protests in the central state of Miranda, about 40 kilometres south of the capital, Caracas.

There were shots from all over - everything was in confusion

Raul Gonzales, Chavez supporter
Talks to resolve the crisis resumed on Monday, despite President Chavez's threat at the weekend to walk out of the negotiations.

The BBC's Adam Easton, in Caracas, says violence is a constant threat in Venezuela, as the oil-rich country becomes increasingly polarised by a strike which is causing severe fuel shortages.

Opposition leaders called the work stoppage to force President Chavez to call early elections, accusing him of concentrating power and plunging the country into recession.

Mr Chavez says the strike is a thinly-veiled attempt to overthrow him.


There are conflicting reports as to who opened fire on the crowd in Charavalle.

National Guard soldier at Coca-Cola bottling plant, Friday17 January
Troops seized control of two bottling plants last week

Miranda state Governor Enrique Mendoza said supporters of the president attacked an opposition march in the area.

But Raul Gonzalez, who was shot in the leg, said he and other Chavez supporters were blocking a road as opposition marchers approached and that both sides began hurling stones and bottles.

"I heard shots and fell down," Mr Gonzalez said.

"There were shots from all over. Everything was in confusion."

A civil defence official said a 29-year-old man died and many others suffered gunshot wounds. Two people were in critical condition.


Former US President Jimmy Carter met government and opposition representatives on Monday in an attempt to break the deadlock between the two sides.

President Hugo Chavez
President Chavez says he will not give in to strikers' demands

He also met the mediator of the talks, Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Cesar Gaviria.

"I have always hoped for a resolution, and I hope there will be one," said Mr Carter after meeting President Chavez.

He described those talks as "positive", AFP news agency reported.

The stoppage has crippled oil production in the country - which before the strike was the world's fifth largest oil exporter - and led to chronic shortages in food and fuel.

Mr Chavez has said he would not be forced into negotiating with the opposition strikers.

Accusing private television stations of supporting the strikers, his government started legal procedures against two of the country's main broadcasters on Monday.

Mr Chavez threatened to revoke their broadcasting licences.

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See also:

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