An estimated two thousand opponents of President Nicolas Maduro have marched in the Venezuela capital to demand authorities to set a date for overdue regional elections.
It was the first demonstration of 2017 but turnout was not massive, perhaps reflecting the frustration over last year’s failure to bring about a referendum to recall the president.
The opposition Democratic Unity coalition is demanding dates for regional elections that are supposed to happen this year, and also urging Maduro to hold a new presidential ballot.
“We are protesting because we want to have elections, so that we can vote and decide the future of the country at the ballot box,” said Dr.Manuel Olivares.
Journalist Maria Hernandez said protesters are tired of not having food:
“We are tired of not being safe, of not being able to let our children go out into the streets, of having an increasingly diminished quality of life with a dictatorial regime that does not respect our rights.”
With many of Venezuela’s 30 million people skipping meals, unable to pay soaring prices for basic goods and facing long lines for scarce subsidized products, Maduro, who won a 2013 election to succeed Chavez, has become deeply unpopular.
Elsewhere in Caracas, red shirted government supporters were also marching. They accuse the opposition of seeking a coup with US backing. Maduro’s six-year term is not sue to end until 2019.