MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Venezuela was supposed to be celebrating its independence from Spain on Wednesday. Instead pro- and anti-government are combating each other on the streets of Caracas.
Clashes erupted outside Venezuela’s National Assembly between supporters of President Nicolas Maduro and opposition lawmakers.
The Independence Day clashes are the latest outbreak of violence in a country struggling with a deepening economic crisis and sometimes bloody street protests demanding a change of government.
Freddy Guevara, the National Assembly vice president and opposition leader, told CNN Espanol that lawmakers Armando Armas and Americo de Grazia were injured in the confrontation with Maduro loyalists.
“Five were injured and transported, plus six employees of the National Assembly,” lawmaker Juan Gauido said.
Gauido spoke to reporters as explosions went off in the background and smoke enveloped the area.
“What you just heard are explosions, but we’re still here firm and we’ll continue to be firm to defend the morale of the people who will not give up,” he said.
CNN reported opposition lawmakers were physically pushed around last week at the National Assembly by the National Guard, which is controlled by Maduro.
Venezuelans in South Florida hope the violence ends soon.
“None of us feel safe there. All of us that work and have no political affiliation feel that way,” said Alvaro Colombo, who is Visiting from Venezuela.
“The people have woken up and when the people know they have power, there’s nothing that can stop them,” said Catherine Lynch.
Venezuela’s civil unrest and a humanitarian crisis in the wake of President Maduro’s austerity program has left it on the brink of collapse and lacking 80 percent of basic medical supplies.
Meanwhile, across the border in Cucuta, tens of thousands of Venezuelans are crossing a bridge desperate for medicine and food.