Venezuelan street protests stretch through holiday; death toll raised to 18

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Associated Press

Posted on March 1, 2014 at 1:03 AM

Updated Saturday, Mar 1 at 1:33 AM

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — It's a long, holiday weekend in Venezuela, but demonstrations continue in the streets of Caracas and at least three other cities.

Scattered barricades still block streets and protesters battled police in some neighborhoods Friday night. Protesters threw rocks and molotov cocktails at National Guard members who fired rubber bullets and water cannons. State television reports that 41 people were detained.

President Nicolas Maduro held a new round of televised peace meetings Friday and planning similar conferences in all states. However, members of the opposition are boycotting the meetings, saying they will not open a dialogue until Maduro releases protesters from jail and stops his harsh crackdowns on protests.

About two weeks of student-led protests mostly in middle-class neighborhoods have left 18 dead.

Venezuelans are facing a scarcity of basic necessities, runaway violent crime and inflation that hit 56 percent last year.

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APPHOTO ABD108: Anti-government demonstrators take cover from a police water cannon in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. The start of a weeklong string of holidays leading up to the March 5 anniversary of former President Hugo Chavez's death has not completely pulled demonstrators from the streets as the government apparently hoped. President Nicolas Maduro announced this week that he was adding Thursday and Friday to the already scheduled long Carnival weekend that includes Monday and Tuesday off, and many people interpreted it as an attempt to calm tensions. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) (28 Feb 2014)

<<APPHOTO ABD108 (02/28/14)££

APPHOTO XFLL107: Bolivarian National Guard officers fire teargas at demonstrators during anti-government protests in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. The start of a weeklong string of holidays leading up to the March 5 anniversary of former President Hugo Chavez's death has not completely pulled demonstrators from the streets as the government apparently hoped. President Nicolas Maduro announced this week that he was adding Thursday and Friday to the already scheduled long Carnival weekend that includes Monday and Tuesday off, and many people interpreted it as an attempt to calm tensions. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) (28 Feb 2014)

<<APPHOTO XFLL107 (02/28/14)££

APPHOTO ABD112: Anti-government demonstrator walks towards riot policemen during a protest in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. The start of a weeklong string of holidays leading up to the March 5 anniversary of former President Hugo Chavez's death has not completely pulled demonstrators from the streets as the government apparently hoped. President Nicolas Maduro announced this week that he was adding Thursday and Friday to the already scheduled long Carnival weekend that includes Monday and Tuesday off, and many people interpreted it as an attempt to calm tensions. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd) (28 Feb 2014)

<<APPHOTO ABD112 (02/28/14)££

APPHOTO XFLL108: A demonstrator runs to confront a line of Bolivarian National Guard officers during anti-government protests in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. The start of a weeklong string of holidays leading up to the March 5 anniversary of former President Hugo Chavez's death has not completely pulled demonstrators from the streets as the government apparently hoped. President Nicolas Maduro announced this week that he was adding Thursday and Friday to the already scheduled long Carnival weekend that includes Monday and Tuesday off, and many people interpreted it as an attempt to calm tensions. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) (28 Feb 2014)

<<APPHOTO XFLL108 (02/28/14)££

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