As protests mount, Venezuela blocks Twitter images

As protests mount, Venezuela blocks Twitter images

Twitter Inc. (TWTR) said the Venezuelan government blocked users’ online images as opposition groups marched through Caracas for a third day, demonstrating against record shortages and the world’s fastest inflation.

Nu Wexler, a Twitter spokesman, confirmed yesterday in an e-mail that the government was behind the disruption. President Nicolas Maduro banned protests Feb. 12 and asked supporters to counter with a “march against fascism” today, in a week of social unrest that has left at least three dead.

In the absence of information from the government or local television outlets, Venezuelans have turned to foreign reporters and social media for news. Twitter users had been posting their photos of demonstrations that started in provincial towns earlier this month, providing an alternative to state-controlled media. It’s unclear if photos were blocked for users of all Internet providers in Venezuela, Wexler said. …

Maduro on Feb. 12 ordered police to detain opposition leaders for inciting violence after clashes between opposition-affiliated students and armed pro-government socialist collectives left 66 people injured and 118 under detention, according to the Interior Ministry. …

Alex Matute, a Caracas-based web developer, said his brother Angel, a 24-year-old student, was among the 30 protesters who were held by the National Guard without being charged and without access to lawyers or family for two days, before being driven to court.

“We have no idea what they plan to do with him,” Alex Matute said by telephone yesterday. “The police won’t tell us anything.” …

Maduro has accused international outlets of bias. He took Colombian station NTN24 off the air after the protests and in a national address Feb. 13 criticized Agence France Presse for “manipulating information.”

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