Several thousand anti-government demonstrators have taken to the streets of Venezuela’s capital Caracas following last’s weeks move by election officials to block a recall referendum.
The rally closed one lane of a major highway.
In what organisers hope will be the first of many rallies, the protest was led by women dressed in white and included Lilian Tintori, the wife of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.
“No one is going to stop us. We are going to rescue democracy, rights, the Venezuelan family, our values,” Tintori said.
Opposition leader Maria Corina Machado said: “We are sending a message to the international democratic community. In Venezuela there is a dictatorship – declared, cruel, without limits and unleashed. And that is why we women are sending a message to various players, in the first place to the National Assembly to go on the offensive”
On Thursday Venezuela’s Electoral Council suspended a petition which sought a recall vote to remove President Nicolas Maduro from office.
Despite sitting on the world’s biggest oil reserves, Venezuela is in the midst of a major economic crisis, which has led to chronic food shortages and soaring prices.