Subscribe to Breaking News emails

You have successfully subscribed to the Breaking News email.

Subscribe today to be the first to to know about breaking news and special reports.

Venezuela: High Court Deals Blow to Bid to Unseat President Maduro

by Associated Press /
Image: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro
A handout photo released by Miraflores Presidential Palace on 24 March 2016 shows Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaking during a ministers council meeting in Caracas, Venezuela, 23 March 2016.MIRAFLORES PALACE / HANDOUT / EPA

Venezuela's government-stacked courts have dealt another blow to the opposition's attempts to unseat President Nicolas Maduro.

In a decision Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that opponents must collect signatures from 20 percent of registered voters in each of Venezuela's 24 states in order to force a recall referendum. The opposition had argued it needed to garner only 20 percent nationally to trigger the vote.

RELATED: 'We're Hungry': Thousands Protest in Venezuela's 'Toma de Caracas'

The ruling will make it harder for opponents to mobilize support, especially in rural states dominated by the government, when it attempts next week to collect and electronically verify 4 million signatures over three days allotted for the petition drive.

Polls show Venezuelans overwhelmingly want to cut short Maduro's term. But the embattled socialist still has control over key institutions including courts and the electoral council.

Follow NBC Latino on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.