Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans antigovernment protesters descended on this capital Thursday in a last-gasp effort to pressure President Nicolás Maduro to permit a recall referendum they hope will oust his Socialist government and end severe food, water and power shortages, rampant crime and the world’s highest inflation.
They blame Maduro and his socialist policies for Venezuela's economic crisis and accuse the electoral commission of delaying a referendum that could shorten his stay in power.
All this, in the country with the world's largest oil reserves.
Opposition leaders said one million antigovernment protesters were in the capital, as others who didn’t make it to Caracas rallied in other cities.
The government did all it could to reduce turnout. Earlier in the day, hundreds of policemen on motorcycles set up an impasse at the important La Cabrera tunnel, local radio reported. Lines of cars and buses stretched for miles at all three main highway entrances, where the security forces set up checkpoints.
Four normally busy Caracas subway stations were shut, as was the Cota Mil, a highway running along the northern edge of the city. The roadblocks cut off transit not only for protesters but also for people trying to get to work.
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