CARACAS, Venezuela — The Latest on protests in Venezuela (all times local):
Venezuelan police are using tear gas to disperse a small crowd of government opponents gathered on a highway.
It’s unclear what prompted the police response or if anyone is hurt.
The clash between police and protesters took place as Caracas residents were returning home from a rally that filled dozens of city blocks to demand that electoral authorities allow a recall referendum against President Nicolas Maduro to move forward this year.
Venezuela’s anti-government demonstration is wrapping up but opponents of President Nicolas Maduro are vowing to return to the streets in a few days.
Jesus Torrealba is the secretary-general of the Democratic Unity alliance. He’s calling for a new show of force Sept. 7, saying Maduro’s opponents will march to the offices of the pro-government electoral council in cities across the country.
He told supporters that: “Today is the beginning of the final stage of our fight.” The packed crowd filled dozens of city blocks.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is mocking what he said is a low turnout of around 30,000 people for an opposition-organized demonstration that was meant to draw as many as 1 million.
Maduro spoke to a crowd of mostly government workers and hard-core supporters at a competing rally. He said that he and first lady Cilia Flores were going to go later to the movies in a popular mall where the opposition concentration is taking place.
Opposition organizers say the turnout was much higher.
Thousands of government opponents are flooding some of the principal streets in Venezuela’s capital to pressure the government to hold a referendum vote this year on Nicolas Maduro’s presidency.
The protesters are chanting, “It’s going to fall, it’s going to fall, the government is going to fall.”
They are carrying Venezuelan flags and signs with slogans such as “We are 30 million reasons to revoke him.”
The demonstrators have come from states all over the country.
News media and press rights organizations say at least seven journalists have been denied entry to Venezuela ahead of Thursday’s planned opposition protests.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says the reporters were told they lacked proper government accreditation as journalists.
It says they include journalists for the French daily Le Monde, Colombia’s Caracol radio and television and Al-Jazeera, as well as one of the committee’s own reporters.
The Miami Herald says its reporter Jim Wyss also was detained and expelled.
Like many countries, Venezuela requires working journalists to have accreditation, though the rules are only sporadically enforced.