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Maduro defends crackdown on protests in Venezuela

March 7, 2014 at 4:38 PM

CARACAS, Venezuela, March 7 (UPI) -- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro defended his government's crackdown on protesters in an interview broadcast Friday on CNN.

"What would happen in the United States if a group said they were going to start something in the United States so that President Obama leaves, resigns, to change the constitutional government of the United States?" Maduro asked. "Surely, the state would react, would use all the force that the law gives it to re-establish order and to put those who are against the Constitution where they belong."

At least 20 people have been killed in clashes between police and protesters. Maduro blamed a minority in the opposition movement for the violence.

Maduro spoke to CNN just over a year after he assumed office with the death of President Hugo Chavez.

A State Department spokeswoman said last month the United States would like to have a "more constructive relationship with Venezuela." Maduro said he would also like a new beginning but said the United States must "respect" Venezuela for it to happen.

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