July 21, 2018

Rival mass protests held in Venezuela

Opposition activists march in Caracas, on September 1, 2016. Venezuela’s opposition and government head into a crucial test of strength Thursday with massive marches for and against a referendum to recall President Nicolas Maduro that have raised fears of a violent confrontation. Photo: AFP

Hundreds of thousands of people have marched through the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, in rival demonstrations, reports the BBC.

Opposition supporters, staging their largest rally for two years, called for President Nicolas Maduro’s removal.

They blame him for Venezuela’s economic crisis and accuse the electoral commission of delaying a referendum that could shorten his stay in power.

Mr Maduro, whose supporters also rallied in huge numbers, accused the opposition of trying to stage a coup.

The government said the opposition had failed to attract the one million people they were expecting in their march, in what the authorities dubbed the “Takeover of Caracas”.

“The nation has triumphed. They wanted to intimidate the people but the people are here,” said Mr Maduro at a rally in central Caracas.

“We have defeated an attempted coup that tried to fill Venezuela and Caracas with violence, death,” he said.

But opposition leaders said their protest had gathered at least their anticipated one million people.

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