11 Photos Depict the Boiling Point of Venezuela's Anti-Goverment Protests
Venezuelan security forces fired tear gas into crowds of demonstrators Wednesday in Caracas during ongoing protests of the government of President Nicolas Maduro.
According to Reuters, "several thousand" protesters clamored to reach the steps of the country's electoral body, seeking a recall referendum to end Maduro's socialist rule of the country.
Venezuela is an oil-rich country on the verge of economic collapse.
A mismanaged state-owned oil industry and government overspending have resulted in entire cities currently facing shortages of food and electricity throughout the country.
Civilians line up in the streets for hours just to buy a loaf of bread.
"They're scared. Venezuelans are tired, hungry," Alfredo Gonzalez, a 76-year-old protester, told Reuters.
Looting, riots and violent clashes with police have become commonplace in the country since Maduro announced daily power cuts as a means of conserving energy last April.
Wednesday's protests were sparked after Madura declared a 60-day emergency period in the country, during which soldiers and police would have more autonomy to respond to the country's economic emergency.
Henrique Capriles, leader of the resistance movement to Maduro's government, told journalists he roundly rejected the president's mandate, saying it would give him unconstitutional powers.
"We, Venezuelans, will not accept this decree. This is Maduro putting himself above the constitution," Capriles said. "To impose this, he'd better start preparing to deploy the war tanks and military jets."
Capriles also told the country's military that the time to declare their allegiance had come.
"And I tell the armed forces: The hour of truth is coming, to decide whether you are with the constitution or with Maduro," he said.