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With Venezuela rocked by mass protests against his increasingly repressive rule, President Nicolás Maduro on Thursday ordered an investigation into Telefónica’s Movistar for alleged “coup-mongering”.

Mr Maduro accused the subsidiary of Spain’s Telefónica of supporting the opposition’s “mother of all rallies” against him.

“I denounce the company Movistar of Venezuela, I have ordered an investigation because it joined the coup-mongering call against the country, and that is not its function,” he said, adding “every two hours the company Movistar sent millions of messages to its phone and internet customers” as part of a “cyberwar”.

The company has yet to respond to Mr Maduro’s accusations.

Tensions continue to grow as Mr Maduro’s foes demand early elections to speed up his removal from office, amid brutal economic, political and social crises. Recent protests have left at least eight people dead.

Mr Maduro warned: “We are not going to allow destabilisation, disturbances, nor coup-mongering.”

Movistar is not the only embattled company in Venezuela. On Wednesday, General Motors said it ceased operations after one of its plants was seized by authorities.

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