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CARACAS | Sat Feb 9, 2013 5:46pm EST

(Reuters) – Opposition leaders derided another currency devaluation by President Hugo Chavez’s government as evidence of economic incompetence, while some anxious Venezuelans hit the shops on Saturday in fear of price increases.

Although Chavez has not been seen in public since cancer surgery two months ago in Cuba, ministers said he personally ordered the fifth devaluation of the bolivar in a decade of socialist economics – this time by 32 percent.

Seen as an imperative by economists but widely unpopular among Venezuelans, the measure is the biggest test yet for Vice President Nicolas Maduro, who has been in charge of the government since Chavez’s December 11 operation.

Read more: Opposition slams Venezuela devaluation, shoppers fret