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Thousands of Venezuelan Opposition Supporters Protest in Caracas

  • VOA News

People chant anti-government slogans as police block their access to downtown Caracas, Venezuela, Jan. 24, 2015.

People chant anti-government slogans as police block their access to downtown Caracas, Venezuela, Jan. 24, 2015.

Thousands of Venezuelan opposition supporters protesting inflation and sharp shortages of food and goods took to the streets in the capital, Caracas, on Saturday to demand an end to the presidency of Nicolas Maduro.

The latest protest, billed "The March of Empty Pots and Pans," was called to highlight shortages of goods and commodities ranging from milk, sugar and meat to toilet paper and corn meal. Witnesses reported scuffles between police and marchers, but there were no reports of significant violence.

Ex-opposition lawmaker Maria Corina Machado, who was jailed last year after rioting left more than 40 people dead, called on socialist President Maduro to step down, so her country can "unite in a national reconstruction process."

Maduro, who assumed the presidency in 2013 as the successor to the late Hugo Chavez, is facing a dismal 22 percent approval rating.

Venezuela's state-controlled economy was already in crisis before the recent collapse of global oil prices. The sharp oil revenue downturn has further devastated the country, which relies on oil exports for more than 90 percent of its foreign currency.

The Maduro government and its supporters blame political opponents for damaging the country's economy.

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