Explosive protests against Venezuela’s government have left dozens of people dead in various clashes on both sides of the political divide. Hundreds more are injured as the ailing nation wades through the worst economic crisis in its history. Police have jailed thousands of people in just two months of demonstrations, and some 1,300 remain behind bars today. The unrest shows no sign of stopping.
Venezuela’s descent into chaos has been swift and stunning: in 2001, the oil-rich country was the wealthiest in South America. Now, its inflation rate ― already the highest in the world ― is set to reach 2,000 percent in 2018, according to International Monetary Fund predictions.
Socialist President Nicolás Maduro, who was narrowly elected in 2013 after the death of former President Hugo Chávez, has fielded much of the blame for his country’s financial woes and human suffering. He is fiercely devoted to carrying on his predecessor’s legacy and policies, even in the face of devastating recession, hyperinflation and dire shortages of basic goods.
But Maduro insists these issues are the result of plunging oil prices and a U.S.-led conspiracy plot to bring down his regime. He has vowed to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution, boldly claiming this will bring peace to the divided country. Critics accuse his government of corruption and are calling for an election to replace him before his term ends in 2019.
As the situation in Venezuela deteriorates, desperation has gripped the nation. Families are forced to spend hours lined up in the streets to purchase necessities like groceries at skyrocketing prices with grossly devalued currency.
Tensions flared in late March after the Supreme Court, which has backed Maduro, accused the opposition-controlled National Assembly of contempt and announced it would strip legislative powers from the body. Clashes erupted as the opposition decried the controversial move as a “coup,” and the court quickly reversed its decision.
Incensed Venezuelans are also lashing out against Goldman Sachs after news broke that the multinational finance company recently purchased $2.8 billion worth of Venezuelan bonds at a small fraction of market price, despite the crippled state of the country’s economy. As The New York Times reported, investors are betting the cash-strapped government will prioritize paying bondholders over importing desperately-needed food and medical supplies for its people, like it has done in the past.
As Venezuela enters its third consecutive month of unabated political uproar after more than 60 days and 60 nights of violent unrest, the following 60 photographs from the capital city of Caracas offer a glimpse into the unfolding crisis.