Venezuela: Protesters vow turning point against President Maduro

A demonstration against the government is held last month in San Cristobal.

Story highlights

  • Tensions between the government and opposition are sky high
  • Both sides accuse the other of staging a coup in the country, in the midst of economic and political strife.

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(CNN)Pope Francis wants them to talk. But the noisy disagreements between Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his political foes may drown out any dialogue.

"The time has come to defend Venezuela's constitution," opposition leader Henrique Capriles said at a news conference called ahead of planned protests Wednesday that organizers say will be so big that they will be a turning point.
    Anger and tensions between the government and the opposition are sky high after Venezuela's National Electoral Council halted a drive to hold a recall referendum on Maduro. Each side accuses the other of staging a coup in the country, which is in the midst of economic and political strife.
    The National Assembly voted Tuesday to ask Maduro to appear for questioning next week so it can determine whether to recommend he be removed from office by the nation's Supreme Court. The Assembly is controlled by opposition lawmakers, while much of the courts are Maduro supporters.
    Maduro returned to Venezuela ahead of schedule Tuesday, after meeting with Francis, who offered a mediator between the two sides. Maduro tweeted, "I'm already landing in our beloved country, full of excitement and with the whole world's blessings for all of Venezuela ... we will continue our pursuit for victory."
    At a rally, Maduro told a group of sympathizers he spoke with the Pope personally, adding, "When I sat down with the Pope I didn't take a seat, the people of Venezuela did."