Hundreds of thousands of opponents of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro, some of whom traveled from far-off villages in the Amazon, marched through the streets of Caracas Thursday.
"Venezuela is hungry!" yelled some of the protestors, all dressed in white, as they marched in the east of the capital.
Protesters are pressing for a recall referendum against the president, whose approval ratings have fallen to a dismal 25 percent this year.
The opposition was hoping for one million people weary of ongoing recession, inflation in the triple digits, and a countrywide shortage of food and basic necessities to march through the capital Thursday.
Maduro threatened to imprison opposition leaders if violence breaks out, but Jesus Torrealba, opposition party Democratic Unity Roundtable leader, has vowed that marches will remain peaceful.
"Not one stone, not one hood, not one broken bottle," he said. "What there will be is purely democratic citizens in the street."
The opposition-dubbed "Takeover of Caracas" chanted "This government will fall!" as they marched through the streets of the capital, demanding action against the president.
But the election board has dragged its feet, making a recall vote this year unlikely.
A separate protest by red-shirted government supporters was also taking placeThursday.
If Maduro were to be voted out, his vice president would assume his rule, leaving the Socialist Party in power.
Maduro has said he feels the protests are part of a coup plan backed by the United States, one similar to a short-lived putsch against his mentor and predecessor Hugo Chavez in 2002.
"I am ready for everything ... we will not allow a coup," Maduro said in a speech late Wednesday.
The weeks leading up to the protest have been marred with tension, with Maduro's government jailing many prominent activists, deploying security forces across the city, and warning of bloodshed.
Last week, Maduro warned a coup attempt in Venezuela would be punished even more severely than it was in Turkey, where last month the military failed to overthrow president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
"Did you see what happened in Turkey?" said Maduro, in a televised public event. "Erdogan will seem like a nursing baby compared to what the Bolivarian revolution will do if the right wing steps over the line with a coup."
Source: Voice of America