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Venezuelans Fill The Streets In Mass Protest Against Socialist President [VIDEO]

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JP Carroll National Security & Foreign Affairs Reporter
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Venezuela erupted into mass protests Thursday, as hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters rallied in the capital city of Caracas.

Opposition coalition, Movement for Democratic Unity (MUD), claims that 1.1 million people turned out to express anger against the policies of the ruling government that caused the country’s economic collapse. The government claimed that only 30,000 people participated in the anti-socialist protest. Supporters of President Nicolas Maduro’s regime staged a counter-protest to voice their continued approval of the government’s policies.

Members of the Venezuelan conservative opposition are hoping that their rally in Caracas will pressure the government to move up the date of the next phase of a presidential recall vote. As things stand, the National Electoral Council (CNE), Venezuela’s governing electoral authority, has stated it will let the opposition gather signatures in support of a recall at some point in late October.

A protester throws a stone while taking part in a rally to demand a referendum to remove Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas

A protester throws a stone while taking part in a rally to demand a referendum to remove Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, September 1, 2016. REUTERS/Christian Veron

If the opposition is able to gather sufficient signatures in October — 4 million signatures in three days, which would represent 20 percent of Venezuelan voters — the government would then hold a recall election. By scheduling the signature collection in late October, this would let the government justify setting the date of the recall election after January 10.

The importance of January 10 is a recall election held after that date could depose Maduro, but would install his vice-president as his successor until 2019. If the recall election is held before January 10, once Maduro would be deposed, this would lead to snap elections, in which the opposition can nominate and run a candidate for the Venezuelan presidency.

Opposition supporters take part in a rally to demand a referendum to remove Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas

Opposition supporters take part in a rally to demand a referendum to remove Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, September 1, 2016. REUTERS/Christian Veron

Ever since the March 2013 death of Hugo Chavez, the country’s political scene has been in disarray as the dead socialist was replaced by former bus driver, now-President Nicolas Maduro. In December 2015, the conservative MUD coalition won control of the Venezuelan National Assembly, the equivalent of Congress, but the Maduro government has repeatedly not recognized the legislature’s constitutional authority.

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