Tags: Venezuela | tear | gas | protest

Venezuela Forces Fire Tear Gas at Protesters

Friday, 29 Jan 2010 09:35 AM

CARACAS, Jan 28 - Venezuelan police used tear gas to disperse students protesting chronic electricity shortages as leftist President Hugo Chavez faced growing complaints over deteriorating public services.

A group of several thousand opposition student demonstrators were marching toward the headquarters of the state electricity agency when police dispersed them. Local media reported two students and one police officer were injured.

Authorities are preparing to renew a power-rationing plan for the capital, Caracas, after Chavez scrapped an earlier effort that left the city in chaos and angered his supporters who were already struggling with restricted water supplies.

The students want university experts to help develop the rationing plans and the government, which controls the electricity, to increase investments in the sector.

Chavez nationalized the electricity sector in 2007. Analysts say the problems stem from a lack of long-term planning as well as insufficient investment by the government and private enterprise.

In televised comments, Chavez said, "they're trying to create the idea that there's no government here, total chaos -- that cannot be permitted." Chavez also warned governors he could send troops to the streets if they were slow to break up protests.

He said the opposition was trying to create disturbances similar to those that led to the botched coup that briefly ousted him in 2002.

The electricity problems, combined with anger over the removal of an opposition station from subscription television services and a sharp currency devaluation this month has breathed life into a fragmented opposition that has struggled to beat Chavez at the ballot box for a decade.

Opposition leaders are hoping to use that discontent to gain ground in elections for Congress, controlled almost entirely by Chavez allies.

The OPEC nation's power and water services have suffered due to a prolonged drought that has crippled the country's hydroelectric dams.

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CARACAS, Jan 28 - Venezuelan police used tear gas to disperse students protesting chronic electricity shortages as leftist President Hugo Chavez faced growing complaints over deteriorating public services.
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2010-35-29
Friday, 29 Jan 2010 09:35 AM
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