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.

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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.

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Venezuela is an oil-rich country on the verge of economic collapse.

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A mismanaged state-owned oil industry and government overspending have resulted in entire cities currently facing shortages of food and electricity throughout the country. 

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Civilians line up in the streets for hours just to buy a loaf of bread.

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"They're scared. Venezuelans are tired, hungry," Alfredo Gonzalez, a 76-year-old protester, told Reuters.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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"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."

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Capriles also told the country's military that the time to declare their allegiance had come.

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"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.

Read more: In Venezuela, A Pack of Condoms Now Costs More Than Your iPhone