The federal government approved a $450 million bridge loan Monday to Venezuela, which has seen some 300 people killed in recent public violence sparked by the imposition of economic austerity measures. The Treasury Department declared in announcing the loan that it "welcomes Venezuela's intention to address its economic and financial situation in a courageous and decisive manner." It expressed confidence that the South American nation's latest "economic program can provide a basis for sustained economic growth, fiscal consolidation and effective debt management." Venezuela, an OPEC member once awash in oil dollars, has fallen on hard times with the deterioration of oil prices.