Venezuela protests: Hugo Chavez's childhood home set on fire as violence clashes continue

Venezuela protests: Hugo Chavez's childhood home set on fire as violence clashes continue

The childhood home of the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez has been set on fire, according to an opposition legislator, as protests against the socialist government continue to rage.

The house, located in the western city of Barinas, was set alight along with several other government buildings by protesters. Demonstrators have also destroyed at least five statues of Mr Chavez during the on-going protests.

"It is pretty symbolic that the citizens are venting their frustrations on the author of the Bolivarian revolution," said Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas.

Protesters in Barinas - known as the cradle of Chavez's revolution - also clashed with national guardsmen, while businesses were shuttered and roads were blocked with fire-filled barricades.

Venezuela’s economy, which was once the richest in Latin America, is estimated to have shrunk by 10 per cent last year and the severity of the crisis is believed to have led to 75 per cent of the population to lose an average of 19lbs in weight.

The country currently has the worst inflation in the world, recorded at over 700 per cent and protesters are blaming President Nicolas Maduro, Mr Chavez's successor, for the dire economic situation, food shortages and rising crime.

At least 49 people are understood to have died in anti-government protests that have been on-going for nearly two months, with people calling for early elections.

The blaze happened on the same day a pro-government supporter was set on fire during the protests. President Maduro accused opposition protesters of setting the man alight.

The victim, 21-year-old Orlando Figuera, was treated in hospital for severe burns and several stab wounds.

Footage of the incident was shown by state broadcasters.

Mr Maduro claimed “Nazi-fascist” elements are taking roots in the opposition’s ranks and contributing to a dangerous spiral of violence.

Venezuela’s chief prosecutor claimed a 19-year-old man named Yorman Bervecia was shot and killed during the protests.

Opposition leaders have blamed security forces and pro-government militias for the majority of the deadly attacks, while urging restraint from their own followers.

The street clashes engulfing Venezuela appear to be turning increasingly violent, with both security forces and youth protesters looking more unruly.

Residents of the country's capital Caracas awoke to several smouldering barricades made of rubbish and torn-down street signs.

Access to the city's downtown was blocked at several points by heavily armed security forces looking to prevent a march to the Health Ministry to demand Mr Maduro open a so-called humanitarian corridor for the delivery of medicine and food aid.

Additional reporting by Associated Press