About 200 Calgarians rallied outside city hall on Thursday to add their voices to the growing dissent against the government in their home country of Venezuela.

"Among widespread shortages of food and medicines ... the crime rates were responsible for more than 25,000 deaths only during 2015," said organizer Josue Ramirez in a statement before the noon rally.

Protesters want to pressure the government to hold a recall referendum against President Nicolas Maduro's rule, and to decry the deep economic crisis facing the country.

"Together [with] the highest inflation in the world, there were massive closures and exodus of businesses and productive farms due to expropriations or [misguided] economic policies and rampant misuse of public funds," said Ramirez.

Meanwhile in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters flooded the streets, in what was probably the biggest mass demonstration against the ruling socialists in more than a decade.

In power since Hugo Chavez's presidency from 1999, Maduro's party has hit a low ebb as falling oil prices and a failing state-led economy have left the OPEC nation in turmoil.
Triple-digit inflation, a third year of recession, shortages of basics, and long lines at shops have exasperated many of Venezuela's 30 million people.

The frustration led to a resounding opposition win in a December legislative vote.

But not everyone wants Maduro gone.

Also on Thursday, pro-government supporters held rival rallies in the capital to show their support.

With files from the CBC's Monty Kruger and Reuters