Venezuelan president warns opposition

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CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has told opposition governors to take part in talks he called for next week or face "consequences," as protests erupted for a 10th night in Caracas, the capital.

Mr. Maduro, addressing the nation Friday night from the presidential palace, said opposition groups were trying to overthrow his government, backed by the political "right" in Latin America and the United States. As he spoke, shots and protests broke out in several Caracas neighborhoods, and the smell of burning trash filled the air in Altamira, a center of demonstrations in the capital. The government and opposition have called for more rallies today.

"There is a campaign to demonize, to isolate, the Bolivarian revolution," said Mr. Maduro, sitting in front of a portrait of late President Hugo Chavez. "It's an international campaign that is trying to divide Latin America."

Mr. Maduro spoke hours after the government revoked the accreditation for seven CNN journalists. He accused the network of misreporting the political crisis, a week after he took Colombian television channel NTN24 off the air following its coverage of the demonstrations.

"They're wiping out the ability of the international media to cover the marches and the government's heavy-handed tactics," Christopher Sabatini, the Council of Americas senior director of policy, said by phone. "This is a very dispersed protest movement, and this was a way for them to inform themselves of events. The government is trying to atomize the opposition."

CNN said in an article published on its website that some reporters would remain in Venezuela for now. "CNN en Espanol has reported both sides of the tense situation in Venezuela, although with very limited access to government officials," the network said in a statement.

Human Rights Watch in an e-mailed statement Friday condemned the government's "excessive and unlawful force," and accused it of trying to quiet the press.

Four people were treated for injuries in the Caracas neighborhood of Chacao, Mayor Ramon Muchacho said on his Twitter account. Earlier in the evening, student protesters in the neighborhood blocked streets with trash cans, tree trunks, metal posts and other debris

At the same time as he was blaming the United States and leaders in Colombia, Panama and Mexico for supporting the protests, Mr. Maduro said he wanted to have talks with President Barack Obama and would be willing to consider exchanging ambassadors with the United States in a bid to improve ties.

He also said peaceful protests are permitted in Venezuela, and vowed to use legal means to counter violent demonstrations. "It's just a matter of time," he said.

Opposition leaders, including Gov. Henrique Capriles, will face "legal and administrative consequences," if they skip talks Monday, Mr. Maduro said, without giving more details. His chief opposition rival, Leopoldo Lopez, who was arrested this week, remains in a military prison on charges that he incited violence.


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