After days of fierce protest, Venezuela's opposition is vowing to keep up the pressure on President Nicolas Maduro to hold elections and improve a collapsing economy. Ivor Bennett reports.
By their own standards, this was considered small. Protesters numbering in the mere tens of thousands for this latest rally - as opposed to the hundreds of thousands who marched across Venezuela on Wednesday. They've been organised by the country's opposition, who are demanding elections and an end to what they call a dictatorship. Eight people have died as demonstrations have turned violent. While local businesses have been looted. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) BAKERY OWNER, ANDREA, SAYING: "It was horrible, it was like a war between the people and officials." (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) STATIONERY SHOP OWNER, ROSA MORENO, SAYING: "I stayed because I believed Venezuela was going forward but now I see it is out of control." The response of Venezuela's President has been steadfast. Launching an investigation into the mobile phone operator Movistar, who he says was paid to send a mass text message to rally protestors. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT, NICOLAS MADURO, SAYING: "I denounce the Movistar Venezuela company and have called for an investigation because it took part in calling the coup attempts in this country and that is not its job. Movistar must know that, that is not its job." To Venezuelans though, it must seem like no one is doing their job. At the mercy of food shortages, a lack of basic goods, and triple-digit inflation. SOUNDBITE (English) MIKE INGRAM, MARKET STRATEGIST, BGC PARTNERS, SAYING: "Venezuela is in a death spiral. And in fact the only surprise is that it's taken quite this long to get here. What comes next? Is it going to be some kind of military coup to impose order? And then we're back to you know military strongmen." It's a prospect many will no doubt fear. But their resolve appears to be only strengthening too. Three more protests are planned over the next four days.