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Venezuelan Officials Hope Holiday Will Calm Protests

Venezuelans began a week-long national holiday Thursday as protesters continued demonstrations against the government in Caracas.

Venezuelans traditionally abandon cities and head for Caribbean coastal beaches to relax and party for the Carnival holiday.

President Nicolas Maduro, the successor to Hugo Chavez, says there will be another day off for the March 5 anniversary of the former leader's death from cancer. Officials hope the long break will dampen student-led street protests against the government.

Demonstrations in Venezuela began two weeks ago, but have grown after at least 13 people were killed, and more than 500 arrested.

Protesters are demanding that President Nicolas Maduro resign over the country's high crime rate, inflation and shortages of staples such as milk and flour.

The Maduro government blames the violence on right-wing opponents of his government, accusing them of receiving support from the United States. The U.S. government denies involvement in the unrest.

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