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Venezuela says US trying to stoke violence

Officials lash out at Washington as senators co-sponsor efforts to impose sanctions on Venezuelan government figures.

Last updated: 15 Mar 2014 12:11
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Daily street protests have rocked parts of the capital and other cities [EPA]

Venezuela's chief prosecutor has accused Washington of seeking to stoke violence in her country, after US politicians called for funding for activist groups there.

"There's no doubt that this is to fund the violent actions taking place in Venezuela," Luisa Ortega Diaz told reporters in Geneva on Friday.

Diaz said the money would be used to buy C4, a kind of explosive. She had said earlier that authorities had seized a kilo of C4, 200 fire-bombs and 25 firearms during a wave of protests in Venezuela.Nicolas Maduro,

Meanwhile, Maduro said South Florida politicians are leading the US into an extremist foreign policy against his country.

US Senators Marco Rubio and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen are leading a "Miami lobby" trying to influence President Barack Obama, Maduro said in a televised news conference on Friday.

Rubio and Ros-Lehtinen are co-sponsoring efforts in their respective chambers to impose sanctions on members of the Venezuelan government tied to human rights abuses.

Each time we're about to isolate and reduce the violence, out comes Kerry to speak

Elias Jaua,  Venezuela’s foreign minister

"Obama can't let himself be taken by the Miami lobby," Maduro said. "I call on the United States to take it easy. They're taking President Obama to an abyss and he's going to end up crashing."

Daily anti-government protests have rocked parts of the capital and other cities for weeks.

The Venezuelan government says at least 25 people have died in the turmoil since February 12. 

After three people died in the central city of Valencia on Wednesday, Maduro said he was stepping up security operations and called on the National Guard to begin searching buildings in areas where violence erupts.

 Since the start of the protests, the government has accused the US of trying to overthrow his government.

Last month, Venezuela expelled three US diplomats, accusing them of organising students to participate in anti-government protests.

'Murderer of the Venezuelan people'

Elias Jaua, Venezuela’s foreign minister, echoed that theme on Friday, singling out Secretary of State John Kerry as a "murderer of the Venezuelan people".

"Each time we're about to isolate and reduce the violence, out comes Kerry to speak", and up go the barricades and the violence, Jaua said.

Kerry told a congressional committee on Thursday that the US was looking for a way to get Maduro to engage in dialogue with his own people and respect human rights.

Destabilising the Venezuelan government would have "unbearable consequences" for the US, Maduro said. And if Venezuela were destabilised, it would bring "the worst period of political and economic instability in Latin America". 

The US dismissed Maduru's accusations that it was meddling in the country's internal affairs by intervening in anti-government protests as "absurd".

"The solution to Venezuela's problems lies in democratic dialogue among Venezuelans, not in repression or in hurling verbal brickbats at the United States," a State Department official said on condition of anonymity.

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