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April 13 is a day meant to celebrate a major milestone in Venezuela’s independence from its formidable Spanish colonizers. This year, while President Nicolás Maduro was proudly wearing his presidential sash and waving greetings at the rowdy crowd, a protestor yelled “Damn you!” and pelted an egg at the president. Within minutes, the scene became a chaotic, bloody melée. Since then, the devastating violence in the capital city of Caracas has only escalated.

When former president Hugo Chavez died in 2013, he declared Maduro as his successor. Maduro’s government was extremely unpopular, so when in the beginning of April, the Supreme Court shifted power from the National Assembly to Maduro’s government, violent protests erupted in Caracas and other major cities, demanding Maduro’s resignation.

Protesters rightfully blame Maduro for the crippling economic crisis that has nearly bankrupted Venezuela. Maduro’s response to this opposition has been to unfairly arrest Venezuelans and charge them with attempting to overthrow the government.

Initially, on January 9th, the National Assembly accused Maduro of abandoning his office and violating human rights, claiming that he had devastated the “economic and and social foundations of the nation.” According to a local survey cited by the Economist, the current poverty rate is approximately 76 percent, compared with 55 percent when Hugo Chávez took power in 1999. The nation of 30 million anguished people is facing a humanitarian plight and an economic collapse under Maduro’s mismanagement.

While Venezuela carries $120 billion in debt plus an additional $10 billion it owes in interest payments, the nation is projected to earn less than $18 billion from exports in 2017, due to their depressed international oil prices. It already owes its latest benefactor, China, $50 billion. In addition, Maduro ended relations with the International Monetary Fund nearly a decade ago, squandering any opportunity to obtain private loans. President Maduro’s government is paralyzed by these adversities.

Thousands of relentless protesters carrying signs that read “Dictator Maduro” inundated the streets of Caracas in a week-long protest in order to express their concern about the current government.

Victoria Paez, a Venezuelan civilian who earns less than $20 a month as a chemical engineer, believes that “every day, the [Venezuelan] government gives us more reasons to leave our homes and protest.”

Many Venezuelans, including her father, Carlos Paez, were pessimistic about the future of their country. He eloquently but accurately stated that “Unfortunately, if there has to be bloodshed for the government to change, it won’t be the first time in history.”