Venezuela protests roil as ally criticizes Maduro

CARACAS, Venezuela — Protests continued Monday across Venezuela amid growing reports of police repression and scarcities of basic goods, which provoked rare public criticism of President Nicolas Maduro by a political ally.

Jose Vielma Mora, governor of western Tachira state, the scene of street violence and protests, told a radio interviewer Sunday night that the military had displayed "excess" in responding to the disturbances.

Vielma Mora, a former army officer who was a longtime supporter of the late President Hugo Chávez, said he sympathized with marchers' complaints of food scarcities. His criticism suggests weakening in the strong political and public support that Maduro inherited from Chávez.

Last week, the central bank revised its scarcity index upward to 28 percent, which represents the proportion of basic foods and household goods that can be considered to be in scarce supply.

Protests that spread nationwide began in Tachira three weeks ago after a university student was raped on campus in San Cristobal. Venezuela has experienced soaring crime rates in recent years.

Disturbances continued across the country Monday.

The latest of 13 reported deaths from two weeks of violence was reported in San Cristobal when a man reportedly fell from a second-floor apartment balcony after being shot with rubber bullets by National Guard units.

Venezuela protests roil as ally criticizes Maduro 02/24/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 12:10am]

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