Sick and tired of the economic crisis, food shortage, infringement on free speech and increased insecurity; hundreds of thousands of anti-government demonstrators came together last week in Venezuela to protest over their current situation.
"This is brutality," an architect named Yesenia Alvarado told Reuters about the living situation in Venezuela. "We are fighting for our freedom because when we go to the supermarket there's no flour, there's no sugar." The demonstrations, which started off peacefully, have turned violent and deadly across the streets in the South American country.
Sympathizers near and far began using social media to voice their concern for Venezuela using hash tags such as, #PrayforVenezuela, #SOSVenezuela and #IAmYourVoiceVenezuela. Many have been following social media platforms to keep up with what's been going on in the foreign country, as answer to what they feel is a lack of coverage on the protests.
In an effort to keep all informed, here are 5 things you need to know about Venezuela right now:
1. Despite calling for a nationwide peaceful protest earlier this month, opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez was blamed by the Maduro administration for the violence that led to the deaths of a handful of people. Lopez decided to turn himself into police on February 18 and said in a speech: "I present myself to an unjust judiciary. May my jailing serve to wake up a people."
2. The latest death as a result of this political unrest was a man who was hit by a stray bullet as he watched the protest from the balcony of his apartment.
3. Why did this all begin? According to the Huffington Post, the inflation rate has risen up to 56 percent; the homicide rate in the country has gone to 79 per 100,000 inhabitants; and media censorship has surged to 87 percent. "We know we're bothering people but we have to wake up Venezuela!" Pablo Herrera, a student in Caracas, told Reuters. The country has even cut off Internet and blocked off communication for protestors.
4. Henrique Capriles, the opposition leader who took over in the place of Lopez, has demanded that Lopez and other jailed demonstrators be released. On Saturday, he also called on Venezuelans to continue to take to the streets to protest the violence.
5. Many people are still behind the President. "Maduro has a lot of support," George Ciccariello-Maher, an assistant professor of political science at Drexel University, told CNN. "He's not Chavez, but he's seen as a relatively faithful representative of what Chavez stood for."