An anti-Chavez rally -- about 10,000 strong -- filled the streets of Caracas on June 20. The protestors were demanding a referendum take place in August to determine whether President Hugo Chavez should remain in power or not. No violence was reported at the rally.
The nation's constitution permits a vote August 19, the halfway point in President Chavez's term.
The leader claims to have no fears regarding a referendum, adding he believes his support is solid in the South American country. But he says it is up to the opposition to follow the proper legal procedures to initiate a referendum.
Venezuela's top military officer, General Garcia Carneiro, says a referendum is "impossible" in August, suggesting organization time is needed, and that proper designation is required for the National Electoral Council. He says opposition pressure for an August 19 vote is intended to encourage another coup, adding a recall vote within six to 11 months is perhaps a more feasible alternative.
Meanwhile, an opposition demonstration in Maracay was quelled by police and government supporters. It lasted less than an hour, say local media sources.