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Venezuelans in a public liplock could wind up in a cell block

Miguel Ramos and Vicky D'Sosa went for a stroll Sunday in Caracas' palm-treed Eastern Park, looking for a few romantic moments together.

Their bliss ended when a guard arrested them along with 15 other couples sprawled across a grassy field. Their alleged offense: being overly passionate in a public setting."It was humiliating," said Ramos, 21, who was fingerprinted and detained for a half-hour in a National Guard station.

Eastern Park and nearby Altamira Plaza are popular lovers' lanes - oases of flower beds, fountains and tranquillity amid this congested, noisy capital of 5 million people.

But officials say couples are getting too cuddly for their tastes. They're cracking down on pairs who kiss too long, embrace too intensely or commit other acts considered illegal under the nation's long-standing morals-and-good-behavior law.

"If you kiss for more than five seconds, the police will grab you," said Nubia Soto, 21. She said some friends were thrown in a police holding cell for more than a day after violating the law in Altamira Plaza.