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Student leader Requesens rises as leader in Venezuelan protests

March 11, 2014 at 1:16 PM

CARACAS, Venezuela, March 11 (UPI) -- Student leader Juan Requesens has risen from campus politics to a leading role in helping stop Venezuela's internal unrest, a report said Tuesday.

The bearded and disheveled Requesens, 24, is appealing because of his speaking style and because he is a new face, not one of the well-established opposition politicians already familiar to Venezuelans, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

The student-led uprising against a crackdown by President Nicolas Maduro has seen 21 fatalities and hundreds of injuries

Maduro asked Requesens to negotiate a settlement to the revolt with him, and Venezuela's interior minister is publicly pressuring Requesens to go to the western state of Tachira, where the protests began, to persuade the student demonstrators to stand down.

Requesens, the student council president of Caracas' Central University of Venezuela, has refused to get involved with negotiations until jailed demonstrators are freed, a demand since picked up by other anti-government politicians, the Post said.

Maduro remains popular with a broad section of Venezuela's poor and working classes despite unrestrained inflation and food shortages. Requesens has said he wants to turn the student rebellion into a broader social movement to transcend the country's economic divides, the newspaper said.

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