Soldiers fire tear gas at stone-throwing protesters as Venezuela's opposition marched to pressure electoral authorities into allowing a recall referendum against unpopular leftist President Nicolas Maduro. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Soldiers fired tear gas at stone-throwing protesters on Wednesday (May 11) as Venezuela's opposition marched to pressure electoral authorities into allowing a recall referendum against unpopular leftist President Nicolas Maduro. The Democratic Unity coalition has ramped up its push to oust Maduro amid a worsening economic crisis, but says the government-leaning electoral body is intentionally delaying the verification of signatures in favour of the referendum. Waving flags and blowing whistles, hundreds marched in the capital of Caracas as well as the provinces - where food scarcity and power cuts are worse - but authorities blocked them. Dozens of protesters and National Guard officers squared off on a Caracas highway, where demonstrators chanted "freedom", held their hands in the air and waved copies of the constitution. Some covered their faces and tossed stones. "Once again, the National Guard is blocking the (people's) will, (blocking) the people who have decided on change this year. The message I am giving, not only to Venezuela, but to the whole world, is that Venezuela doesn't have enough weapons to defeat us," said opposition deputy, Juan Requesens. A new election would be held if the opposition succeeds this year in recalling Maduro, whose term ends in 2019. But if a successful recall referendum is held in 2017, the presidency would fall to the vice president, a post currently held by Socialist Party loyalist Aristobulo Isturiz. The opposition says Maduro, elected in 2013, is incapable of solving the OPEC country's deepening recession and is pushing Venezuela towards economic catastrophe. One recent poll showed almost 70 percent of Venezuelans want Maduro, 53, gone this year.