As anti-government protests intensify in crisis-hit Venezuela, internatiolal diplomats call for a new vote and investors stay on the sidelines amid spiralling inflation and growing political instability. Silvia Antonioli reports.
"Freedom"- is what these angry protesters are calling for. Freedom from what they say is an increasingly dictatorial government. This is the longest wave of protests in over 3 years. And the longer it goes on the more out of control it gets. Police firing rubber bullets and tear gas against the crowd. Students responding with rocks and whatever else they can find. These scenes show a supermarket being looted in the north of the country. And a young man died in protest-related violence last week. President Nicolas Maduro, puts down what he calls "pockets of violence" to foreign pressures and the opposition. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT NICOLAS MADURO, SAYING: "These violent groups and the right - they represent the modern day antichrist. We will defeat them." The social unrest was sparked by the ongoing economic crisis. The oil producing nation was badly hit by falling crude prices. Triple-digit inflation and shortages of basic products are now the norm. Adding fuel to the fire: a political ban on the main opposition leader and an attempt to dissolve the national assembly. Now international diplomats are calling for elections to restore full democracy. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CIBC, HEAD OF FX STRATEGY JEREMY STRETCH "I think for now investors will continue to stand aside essentially from investing in the country and so until there is some degree of credibility from political and or monetary sources I think the problems will reman relatively significant." Investment starvation though is only likely to plunge the country even deeper into the vicious circle of hyperinflation and violent protests. Suggesting a change of direction is needed. And quickly.