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Clashes Erupt at Venezuela Rally

March 22, 2003

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ Government supporters clashed with protesters gathering Saturday for a rally against President Hugo Chavez.

About 60 government supporters, many on motorcycles, blocked roads and threw sticks, stones and fireworks at the group in a Caracas suburb, Globovision television reported.

Six people suffered minor injuries and demonstrators later called off the rally.

The local headquarters of one of Venezuela’s main opposition parties, Democratic Action, also was looted and set on fire, said Edgar Leoni, administrator of the Caricuao parish in southwestern Caracas.

Chavez’s left-wing presidency has bitterly divided Venezuela’s population and clashes between the two sides have become common.

A two-month national strike aimed at forcing the president to resign or call early elections ended in February without success.

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