Angry protesters clashed with security forces in Caracas and other Venezuelan cities Tuesday amid building anger over recession-sparked shortages of food and other necessities. Security forces fired tear gas, water cannons and pepper spray to quell the protests.

Clashes erupted after subway stations were closed and checkpoints were set up. The capital’s Plaza Venezuela, where protesters planned to stage their demonstration, was cordoned off.

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Tensions have been building since the Supreme Court, which is controlled by President Nicolas Maduro, last week stripped the opposition-led National Assembly of its functions and usurped its duties. The court, however, was forced to retract the ruling as a result of international pressure, but previous rulings have left lawmakers virtually powerless.

Critics have accused Maduro of leading the country toward dictatorship.

Reuters reported a woman knelt in the street during Tuesday’s demonstrations and sang the national anthem as neighbors banged pots and pans to show their anger at the government.

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Maduro supporters charge the United States is behind the protests with the aim of toppling Maduro, who came to power after the 2013 death of Hugo Chavez.

"They want an intervention in Venezuela," Prisons Ministry worker Juan Aponte, 34, charged.

National Guard troops stationed along a highway leading into Caracas fired tear gas at knots of demonstrators, Reuters said.

Maduro has tried to present himself as a statesman but has packed judicial bodies with Socialist Party supporters. He also has jailed scores of opponents, postponed local elections and blocked a referendum on his government.

Venezuela’s representative to the Organization of American states Monday stormed out of a session called to debate Venezuela, calling the meeting illegal. The 34-nation bloc adopted a resolution calling on Venezuela to restore full authority to the opposition-led National Assembly.

"The OAS has surpassed itself in aggression against Venezuela," Maduro said late Monday. "It is a real court of inquisition, carrying out abuses and vulgarities."