Opponents of President Nicolas Maduro flooded Venezuela’s capital on Thursday in one of the biggest mass protests against socialist rule for more than a decade.
Dressed in white and chanting “this government will fall,” hundreds of thousands rallied across Caracas to demand a recall referendum against Maduro and decry a deep economic crisis in the South American OPEC nation.
The opposition Democratic Unity coalition estimated at least 1 million people took part after protesters streamed into Caracas from the Amazon jungle to the western Andes.
“We are going to bring down Maduro!” said Naty Gutierrez, 53, whose 75-mile (120 km) drive from Maracay into Caracas took three times longer than usual due to soldiers’ roadblocks.
“We are going to defeat hunger, crime, inflation and corruption. They’ve done nothing in 17 years. Their time is finished,” she said, surrounded by thousands of people waving banners and national flags at one gathering point. The government, which mounted its own, smaller counter-protest, did not give numbers for the turnout.
The opposition hoped its protests would prove they are the majority and heap pressure on Maduro and the national election board to allow a plebiscite on his rule, as allowed by the constitution half-way through a presidential term.
Incredible scenes of protest in Caracas Venezuela…frustration with govt seems to have hit boiling pt pic.twitter.com/j7JH9YB6yM
— Tom Burridge (@TomBurridgebbc) September 1, 2016