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Facing a deepening economic and political crisis, Venezuela's Supreme Court on Saturday reversed its decision to seize control of the legislature after the move sparked mass protests inside the South American nation, and widespread condemnation from neighbours.

The ruling lasted less than a week.

Street protests rocked Venezuela's capital, Caracas, this weekend as tensions over an economic and political crisis have brought the country to the brink of collapse.

The Supreme Court's rulings last week effectively dissolved the opposition-majority legislature, overturned every law it had passed since taking office December 2015 in landslide elections, and revoked lawmakers' immunity from prosecution – spurring fears President Nicolas Maduro is getting ready to purge the opposition from the legislature.

Fourteen countries from North and South America, including the United States, called on Venezuela to "re-establish democracy" by holding early elections, or face expulsion from the Organization of American States (OAS), the regional political bloc.

"The latest actions taken by the authoritarian regime subvert the constitutional order in Venezuela and eliminate all semblance of democracy," OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro said on Sunday.

"We have to come out and defend democracy," said Sara Ramirez, 68, a building porter, waiting in line.

But others are sick of the political conflict.

"I don't support either side," said Yandry Diaz, 18, who works in a shoe shop. "What they want is to have us in the street, fighting and killing each other so that they can hold power."

"If it's not a coup then it looks very like one," said Eduardo Rodriguez, a 58-year-old mechanic. "It looks very ugly to me."

In 2016, Venezuela's inflation ballooned past a staggering rate of 400 percent. By 2018, inflation is projected to skyrocket to more than 4,000 percent.

Venezuela has the world's biggest oil reserves but the collapse in prices has sapped its revenues, prompting shortages of food, medicine and basic goods like toilet paper.

Tensions at the long lines at the public food dispensaries have erupted into riots, looting, and a spike in violent crime.

The OAS is calling on Maduro, whose term ends in October 2018, to call early elections. He has fended off opposition efforts to call for a vote on removing him from power.

Some local polls show that as many at 78 percent of Venezuelans disapprove of the job Maduro has done as president.

Maduro shot back at the opposition's claims, accusing them of being beholden to Western geopolitical interests who have long wanted to see the socialist leader ousted from power.

"It is false that there has been a coup d'etat in Venezuela. On the contrary, its institutions have adopted corrective legal measures to halt the deviant, coup-mongering actions of opposition lawmakers," Maduro said Saturday.

Maduro's opponents blame the failure on 18 years of socialist "revolution" under the president and his late mentor, Hugo Chavez.

Venezuela's food shortages, inflation and crumbling medical sector have become such a source of anguish that a growing number of young women are reluctantly opting for sterilisation surgery rather than face the hardship of pregnancy and child-rearing.

Traditional contraceptives like condoms or birth control pills have virtually vanished from store shelves, pushing women towards the hard-to-reverse surgery.

Lorena Ramos, 36, dreamed of having four children, but she and her husband have a combined income of just over $100 a month. That's hardly enough to raise their two sons, let alone four. "The financial situation allows for only two children," said Ramos.

The political crisis comes at a moment when Venezuelans are facing an economic crisis with no end in sight. Over 30 percent of the country lives below the poverty line, and nearly two decades of socialist-led government hasn't seen the benefits of the country's oil wealth go to the poorest in society.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies