World

Venezuelans demanding president's recall take to streets in massive Caracas rally

Manifestantes antigobierno alzan los brazos frente a una hilera de guardias nacionales que le impiden llegar a la sede del Consejo Nacional Electoral en Caracas, Venezuela, 11 de mayo de 2016. Oficialismo y oposición miden fuerzas en la calle el sábado 14 de mayo de 2016 después que el presidente Nicolás Maduro extendió por 60 días sus poderes especiales para contrarrestar el incremento de la inflación. (AP Foto/Fernando Llano)

Manifestantes antigobierno alzan los brazos frente a una hilera de guardias nacionales que le impiden llegar a la sede del Consejo Nacional Electoral en Caracas, Venezuela, 11 de mayo de 2016. Oficialismo y oposición miden fuerzas en la calle el sábado 14 de mayo de 2016 después que el presidente Nicolás Maduro extendió por 60 días sus poderes especiales para contrarrestar el incremento de la inflación. (AP Foto/Fernando Llano)  (ap)

For the third time in a week, Venezuelan police clashed on Wednesday with thousands of protesters who took to the streets of Caracas demanding a referendum to recall President Nicolas Maduro.

The massive rally came days after the socialist president declared a state of emergency in the economically struggling country. He gave himself decree powers for 60 days.

Thousands of people tried to make their way through to the country's electoral body, but police in riot gear blocked the route. A small group tried to break through and was turned back by tear gas.

On Tuesday, opposition leader Henrique Capriles called on the country to reject the extra powers granted to Maduro.

"If Maduro wants to apply this decree, he needs to start preparing tanks and war planes, because he'll have to apply it by force," Capriles said.

The country has seen constant small-scale protests in recent weeks against widespread water and electricity cuts.

The opposition roiled the country with bloody nationwide protests in 2014. But protests have tended to be small and peaceful since then.

A majority of the country wants Maduro out, according to national polls. Venezuelans overwhelmingly voted for the opposition in congressional elections in December, but state institutions have blocked the opposition-controlled congress from passing any legislation.

With congress unable to push through legislation, opposition leaders have begun turning their attention to the streets and the recall referendum as their best option to exert political pressure.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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