efe-epaCaracas

Hundreds of Venezuelans in more than a dozen cities around the country on Monday began gathering for a planned sit-in protest "against the dictatorship," the latest move to protest against the government of Nicolas Maduro.

The protesters, called out in at least 15 cities by the opposition MUD coalition, began congregating on Monday morning for the "peaceful resistance" event that is expected to last for several hours.

"The peaceful protests all over the country will continue until Mr. Maduro respects the Constitution and halts his self-coup," said former presidential candidate and Miranda state Gov. Henrique Capriles on his Twitter account.

In addition, he said that "if there is no response from the corrupt Maduro narco leadership, at the end of today's peaceful protest" the opposition will announce "subsequent actions."

The activities on Monday, which began with gatherings of protesters and marches, are expected to include government opponents seating themselves on the ground for several hours, as the political parties organizing the event have said.

Besides Caracas, hundreds of people turned out in the states of Nueva Esparta, Vargas, Tachira, Zulia, Merida and Trujillo but no incidents or activity by the security forces to impede the gatherings were reported at most of the demonstration sites.

The Bolivarian National Police and the National Guard did break up an opposition protest in eastern Caracas using tear gas, after which the demonstrators set up a barricade to block traffic along one of the city's main avenues.

The head of the non-governmental organization Foro Penal Venezolano, Alfredo Romero, said in a brief Twitter message that arrests had been reported at that protest but he offered no further details.

The Caracas Metro said that 11 Metrobus routes had been closed down on Monday as a security measure, a measure implemented by the state-run entity during all of the opposition protests over the past three weeks, although service was continuing along the underground routes.

The anti-government protests began three weeks ago to denounce the alleged "coup d'etat" staged by the Supreme Court in issuing rulings that took over certain duties of the opposition-controlled Parliament.

The opposition has also been demanding general elections, the release of political prisoners and the opening of a humanitarian aid channel into the country to allow the entry of medicines and food, along with the return of full parliamentary authority.

Twenty-three people have died during the protests, including 12 looters who were electrocuted while raiding several stores in Caracas. In addition, more than 100 people have been injured and almost 800 arrested, according to Foro Penal Venezolano.