Anti-Maduro protesters shut down Caracas
Anti-government protesters filled the streets of Venezuela's capital and other major cities in a show of force against Presidential Nicolas Maduro, whose allies enraged the opposition by blocking a recall referendum against the socialist leader.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators shut down Caracas' main highway on Wednesday, many chanting "Democracy, yes! Dictatorship, no!" And police clashed with protesters in other cities in what opposition leaders called "the takeover of Venezuela".
"Maduro has shown how scared he is that the people will express themselves," opposition leader Henrique Capriles said.
The protests come after electoral authorities blocked a recall campaign against Maduro last week. The face-off escalated on Tuesday when the opposition-led legislature voted to put Maduro on trial, accusing him of effectively staging a coup.
Opposition legislators argued that Venezuela's leader has effectively abandoned the presidency by neglecting his job. And many Venezuelans blame him for the country's triple-digit inflation, free-falling economy and shortages of food, medicine and other basic goods.
Opposition leaders ended Wednesday's national day of protest with call for a general strike today.