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Guardsmen in Caracas block food-shortage protest march

A demonstrator takes cover from tear gas fired by Bolivarian National police during clashes with anti-government protesters in Caracas on Saturday, March 8, 2014.

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By The Associated Press
Saturday, March 8, 2014, 9:18 p.m.

CARACAS — In a major show of force, hundreds of National Guardsmen in riot gear and armored vehicles prevented an “empty pots march” from reaching Venezuela's Food Ministry on Saturday to protest chronic food shortages.

More than 5,000 protesters banged pots, blew horns and whistles and carried banners in the capital to decry crippling inflation and shortages of basics, including flour, milk and toilet paper. Similar protests were held in at least five other cities.

All over Venezuela, people spend hours every week queuing up at supermarkets, often before dawn, without knowing what may arrive.

“There's nothing to buy. You can only buy what the government lets enter the country because everything is imported. There's no beef. There's no chicken,” said Zoraida Carrillo, a 50-year-old marcher in Caracas.

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