By Senabri Silvestre
SANTO DOMINGO, Dom. Rep. (AA) – Dozens of Venezuelans took to the streets Thursday to protest the lack of food and medication in the South American country.
Demonstrators occupied main avenues in Caracas but were dispersed by security guards and national police with tear gas when they headed toward the presidential palace. “We want food” and “Maduro coward, the people are hungry” were chanted by protesters who have grown weary of the two-year long crisis.
One Twitter user expressed frustration on the social media platform. “What do you say to a father whose children tell him they are hungry? @NicolasMaduro”, Venezonalo tweeted.
Local media reported that spontaneous demonstrations began when residents became frustrated at not being able to buy food at a shop in the La Candelaria neighborhood. They began chanting and running in different directions.
A group of journalists reported that they were assaulted by the National Guard and groups of armed civilians who robbed, threatened and beat them, according to the National Union of Press.
President Nicolas Maduro has blamed the United States and its regional allies for attempting to take control of his government and the food shortages are part of an orchestrated effort to meet that goal.
Recently, spontaneous protests have been seen almost daily in the South American country that is grappling with a political and economy crisis, that has been characterized by shortages of basic commodities and inflation placed at 700 percent by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The IMF said in April that Venezuela’s production capacity had plummeted as a result of the lack of intermediate goods, price controls and a deteriorating business climate.
The country’s National Assembly which is controlled by the opposition has declared a "national food crisis" due to the lack of supplies.