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US Calls for Venezuela to Stop Violence Against Protesters

National Guards detain anti-government protesters after a demonstration against Nicolas Maduro's government at Altamira square in Caracas March 16, 2014. Venezuelan troops stormed the Caracas square on Sunday to evict protesters who turned it into a stron
The United States is calling for the Venzuelan government to stop violence against citizens exercising their rights.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Monday said Venezuelan authorities should release those unjustly jailed, allow freedom of speech, lift restrictions on the freedom of the press, and begin a dialogue with Venezuelans across the political spectrum.

In Caracas, security forces Monday took control of a plaza and surrounding neighborhoods at the center of anti-government protests that have shaken the country for a month. President Nicolas Maduro warned protesters Saturday they had only hours to clear Plaza Altamira or security forces would enter.

The protests begun by students have been joined by tens of thousands of mostly middle class Venezuelans hit by runaway inflation, soaring violent crime, and shortages of basic necessities.

Venezuela's government says 25 deaths are related to the protests.