Security personnel in Caracas have broken up a protest outside the presidential palace. Around 100 demonstrators demanded more food as the country suffers a severe shortage of essential goods.
Protesters told the Associated Press that they were waiting in a line to buy food at cheap prices, when some government supporters cut through.
A protester called Jose Lopez said he and several others, who were neither government supporters nor opposition members, marched through Caracas' main thouroughfare, chanting, "No more talk. We want food."
"We have needs. We all need to eat," Lopez told journalists.
"I've been here since 8 in the morning. There's no more food in the shops and supermarkets... We're hungry and tired," another protester told the broadcaster Vivoplay.
As they neared President Nicolas Maduro'sresidence, national guardsmen and police in riot gear fired tear gas and pushed them away. Onlookers leaned out of their windows, banging pots and pans and calling the officers names.
More security personnel were sent to curb the mob as government supporters hit the demonstrators with sticks.
Opponents warn Maduro of unrest
Meanwhile, Venezuela's opponents were waiting for a decision by the National Electoral Board (CNE) to allow a referendum to remove President Maduro. His opponents have warned the country would plunge into unrest if the vote was not allowed.
Enrique Marquez, deputy speaker of the legislature in Caracas, said it was the only "escape valve" for the country that is suffering severe shortages of essential goods and amenities, including food, medicines, running water and electricity.
Recently, Maduro announced a few measures aimed at alleviating the hardship many face. He asked government offices and shops to work fewer days in the week and told people to stop using electric hair dryers and ironing their clothes.
Venezuela has the world's largest crude oil reserves, but has been hit hard by falling global prices. Critics say Maduro's socialist economic policies, drawing on those of his predecessor Hugo Chavez, have worsened the situation.
mg/gsw (Reuters, AFP)