UPDATE 2-Venezuela March inflation speeds up amid street protests

jueves 24 de abril de 2014 18:11 GYT

(Adds 2013 GDP figure, estimates of annualized inflation)

By Eyanir Chinea

CARACAS, April 24 (Reuters) - Venezuela's inflation accelerated to 4.1 percent in March from 2.4 percent the month before, the central bank said on Thursday, attributing the situation to an opposition-led "economic war" and months of violent street protests.

Soaring consumer prices and nagging product shortages have in part motivated opposition protesters to stage often violent street demonstrations to demand the resignation of President Nicolas Maduro. At least 41 have been killed.

"The blocking of streets, threats against transport workers, the missed workdays ... affected the production of goods and their prices," the bank said in a politically charged statement, published two weeks after the deadline for releasing the figure.

The central bank's website on Thursday also showed that the OPEC nation's economy in 2013 grew 1.3 percent, less than the 1.6 percent that Maduro had estimated in December.

Food prices rose by 6.1 percent, which the bank attributed to roads blocked by opposition protests. It added that current trends indicate inflation may continue accelerating in April.

The statement omitted the annualized inflation figure, which topped 57 percent in February.

Two Venezuelan economists said their own calculations show the annualized rate had reached 59.4 percent. The bank's website shows the percentage change in the consumer price index, but has not provided the index itself since December.   Continuación...