Venezuela

    Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma said about 1,000 city employees can't get to work because supporters of President Hugo Chavez have occupied municipal offices for the past 12 days. The demonstrators, who are armed with guns according to Ledezma and city employees, are former contract workers let go after Ledezma beat Chavez's socialist party candidate in regional elections in November. Ledezma, describing the protesters' jobs as "political activists," said the shutdown of the Metropolitan Palace of Caracas is disrupting city services. The occupation follows gains by opposition parties in the November balloting that put anti-Chavez forces in control of the country's biggest states and cities. (Bloomberg)

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