UPDATE 2-Venezuela confirms recession, highest inflation in Americas
(Adds data, Maduro quotes, context)
By Andrew Cawthorne and Diego Ore
CARACAS Dec 30 (Reuters) - Venezuela confirmed on Tuesday it had entered a recession while inflation remained the highest in the Americas, and President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government blamed political foes for the dismal data.
The Central Bank said GDP contracted in each of the first three quarters: 4.8 percent, 4.9 percent and 2.3 percent. Twelve-month inflation reached 63.6 percent in November.
Economists, banks and regional bodies have long forecast that the OPEC member would be the worst-performing major economy in the region this year. The central bank statement confirmed those views just before Maduro began a news conference in which he was expected to announce economic changes.
Maduro, 52, won election last year to replace his mentor Hugo Chavez. He has blamed political opponents, who protested in the streets for four months this year, for damaging the oil-dependent economy.
Those protests resulted in violence that killed 43 people, including protesters, security officials and Maduro backers.
"These actions against public order blocked the correct distribution of basic goods to the population, as well as the normal development of production of goods and services," the central bank statement said.
"This resulted in an inflationary spike and a fall in economic activity." Continuación...