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Massive Demonstrations Demand President’s Ouster in Venezuela

Venezuela's opposition stepped up its push to remove the leftist president with rallies that drew hundreds of thousands of protesters.

Opposition supporters rally against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas on Wednesday, Oct. 26.

Enraged by last week's suspension of their push for a referendum to remove Maduro and determined to end 17 years of socialism in the South American OPEC nation, Venezuela's opposition has sharply ramped up its tactics in recent days.

CHRISTIAN VERON / Reuters

Opposition demonstrators shout slogans in front of Venezuelan National Guard members in San Cristobal, Venezuela, on Wednesday.

Protesters clashed with security forces in several cities across Venezuela, including the volatile western town of San Cristobal that was an epicenter of violence during 2014 anti-Maduro protests.

CARLOS EDUARDO RAMIREZ / Reuters

National police prevent demonstrators in eastern Caracas from heading to the capital's downtown.

Coalition leaders called for a national strike for Friday, and a Nov. 3 march to the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, unless the election board allows the referendum to remove Maduro.

JUAN BARRETO / AFP - Getty Images
University students march against the government of President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on Wednesday. The socialist president and center-right-dominated opposition accuse each other of mounting a "coup" in a volatile country rich in oil but short of food. JUAN BARRETO / AFP - Getty Images

Opposition supporters rally in Caracas.

Despite sitting on the world's biggest oil reserves, Venezuela is in the throes of a punishing recession that has many poor families skipping meals amid scarce food and triple-digit inflation.

CHRISTIAN VERON / Reuters
Demonstrators clash with members of Venezuela's National Guard in San Cristobal. CARLOS EDUARDO RAMIREZ / Reuters

Opposition activists clash Wednesday with National Guard members in San Cristobal.

GEORGE CASTELLANOS / AFP - Getty Images
An opposition demonstrator wears a gag over his mouth that says "Venezuela is living under a dictatorship" in Caracas on Wednesday. MARCO BELLO / Reuters

Lilian Tintori, center, wife of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo López, stands with protesters in Caracas on Wednesday.

After a yearlong trial, López was sentenced to almost 14 years in prison for "inciting violence" during street protests in Venezuela in 2014.

Rodrigo Abd / AP

Demonstrators hold up signs with depictions of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on Wednesday.

CARLOS GARCIA RAWLING / Reuters
Proteseters chant anti-government slogans in Caracas on Wednesday. Rodrigo Abd / AP

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro waves to supporters during a rally of pro-government demonstrators in Caracas. Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader, narrowly won election after Hugo Chavez's death in 2013.

Related: Anti-Maduro Protests in Venezuela Turn Violent

MARCELO GARCIA / Venezuelan Presidency via AFP - Getty Images