Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans hit the streets of Caracas to protest against the government of Nicolás Maduro and to demand a recall referendum, despite attempts by police and national guard units to block access to the capital.
Demonstrators on Thursday came from across the country and crowded the capital’s main avenues. Some were draped in the Venezuelan flag, while others wore white T-shirts as a symbol for peace, The Guardian reported.
Carmen Díaz, a 32-year-old secretary said she was marching because she wanted to see change in her country, which has been crippled by runaway inflation, chronic shortages of basic goods and unbridled crime.
“Enough of this corrupt regime that has us going hungry,” said Díaz.
Edgar Zambrano, a publicist, said he was protesting because “the country is sinking. We have to demand a recall referendum this year.”
Police and national guard units in riot gear watched as protesters filled the streets but there were no immediate reports of clashes.
“We Venezuelans are peaceful and we cannot allow ourselves to be provoked by those who do not want change,” said opposition leader Henrique Capriles on the eve of the march.
Maduro has accused the opposition, which is leading Thursday’s protest, of orchestrating a coup attempt against his socialist government. Several key opposition figures were detained in the run-up to the march on charges they were planning acts of violence during the protests.