Thousands pack Venezuelan capital to demand Maduro steps down

Hard-working Venezuelans poured onto the streets in their tens of thousands today to demand the end of the failed socialist dictatorship that has brought the country to its knees.

Teachers, civil servant, businessmen, students, shop-workers, waitresses and housewives gathered across the capital, Caracas, to take part in the country's biggest ever demonstration calling for President Nicolas Maduro to quit.

The demonstrators – from all social classes – were answering the call of opposition leader Juan Guaido to 'take to the streets' to demand fresh elections, as well as food and medical supplies for the millions suffering in the crippling economic crisis.

Carrying Venezuelan flags and blowing horns and whistles, Guaido's supporters planned to converge on the European Union headquarters in eastern Caracas from five staging areas around the city. 

Opposition activists pour into the streets to back Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido's calls for early elections, in Caracas on Saturday

Opposition activists pour into the streets to back Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido's calls for early elections, in Caracas on Saturday

A Venezuelan woman shouts slogans as she takes part in a rally in Catalonia square, in Barcelona, Spain as countries around the world condemn the actions of President Nicolas Maduro

A Venezuelan woman shouts slogans as she takes part in a rally in Catalonia square, in Barcelona, Spain as countries around the world condemn the actions of President Nicolas Maduro

The streets of Caracas were filled with Venzuelans of every class, from every type of profession to call for an end to the socialist tyranny of Maduro

The streets of Caracas were filled with Venzuelans of every class, from every type of profession to call for an end to the socialist tyranny of Maduro

The EU and major European powers have given Maduro until Sunday to call 'free elections' or they will recognize Guaido, the head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, as the crisis-torn country's acting president.

Underscoring the high stakes, a Venezuelan air force general announced Saturday he rejected Maduro's 'dictatorial' authority and pledged his allegiance to Guaido, in a video posted on social media. 

Civil servant Eduardo Lugo, 58, told MailOnline: 'We have come out into the street to liberate our country. We want to bring hope back to Venezuela.

'The country is in a terrible mess. We are suffering. There is no food, we have hyper-inflation, there is no democracy. We want to be free.'

His partner Carmen Romero, 50, added: 'We need change.'

This month's protests have received overwhelming support from abroad, with the US, Canada and many others already recognising Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate leader.

Guaido argues that Maduro's re-election last year was rife with fraud, and he has invoked two articles of Venezuela's constitution which he argues give him the right to assume presidential powers.

Adrianna Garcia, 27, told how despite holding down two jobs she can't make ends meet: 'The country has become a dictatorship. We want the country to get back on its feet.

'I have two jobs but I still do not have enough money to buy the everyday things I need.

'I want to have a proper job and for my country to have a future. For that we need a new president, a fresh start.' 

Opposition supporters take part in a rally against Maduro in Caracas as they stand on fencing to get a better view over the sea of people

Opposition supporters take part in a rally against Maduro in Caracas as they stand on fencing to get a better view over the sea of people

Civil servant Eduardo Lugo, 58, told MailOnline: ‘We have come out into the street to liberate our country. We want to bring hope back to Venezuela

Civil servant Eduardo Lugo, 58, told MailOnline: 'We have come out into the street to liberate our country. We want to bring hope back to Venezuela

A protester holds a sign in English which says: 'God Guaido Almagro and the world to Venezuela, thanks!' And then in Spanish 'Forza Ragazzi!' - which means 'Come on Guys!'

A protester holds a sign in English which says: 'God Guaido Almagro and the world to Venezuela, thanks!' And then in Spanish 'Forza Ragazzi!' - which means 'Come on Guys!'

Cosmetics company worker Mariel Armas, 52, told how she has to choose between buying food and clothes or other commodities.

'Every day I have to make a choice about how I am going to spend the little money I earn,' she told MailOnline.

'I can either buy food or I can buy clothes. I cannot buy both. I just want Venezuela to go back to how it used to be before this dictatorship. We used to be a rich country. There

read more from dailymail.....

Get the latest news delivered to your inbox

Follow us on social media networks

NEXT Protesters set fire to U.S. Embassy in Honduras in second day of demonstrations