Demonstrators march during an opposition rally in Caracas, Venezuela April 6, 2017.
Demonstrators march during an opposition rally in Caracas, Venezuela April 6, 2017.

Protestors marched in cities around Venezuela on Thursday as the country's opposition gained new impetus against a socialist government it blames for the country's social and economic collapse.

The spark for this wave of demonstrations was a move last week by the Supreme Court to assume control of the country's opposition-led congress in what demonstrators said was a lurch toward dictatorship.

The widely condemned decision was quickly overturned but protests are continuing.

"The objective is to put the magistrates on trial (and) get the government to publish an electoral timetable," opposition lawmaker Stalin Gonzalez told Caracas-based Union Radio.

This country has changed and wants to get out of the crisis.

"We live in dictatorship"

The opposition's primary demand now is to hold the next presidential election before its scheduled date at the end of 2018 to push out Socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

"We live in a dictatorship, and the only way out of a dictatorship is to take to the streets," said 20-year-old student Victor Sanchez.

Venezuela is suffering from triple-digit inflation, shortages of basic foods and medicines, and one of the world's highest murder rates.

Tensions have been simmering this week after tear gas and rocks flew between protesters and security forces during a major demonstration on Tuesday. The confrontations injured 20 people and led to 18 arrests, according to the Caracas-based Penal Forum rights group.

The opposition says it faces growing persecution. The leader of one of its parties, Copei, sought refuge in the home of the Chilean ambassador in Caracas on Wednesday, according to that country's foreign ministry.

Maduro's government says a US-backed business elite is responsible for Venezuela' economic downturn and is now trying to foment a coup to impose right-wing rule. His supporters were also planning to march in Caracas on Thursday.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies