ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- Some are calling it a possible coup in Venezuela. This week thousands of protestors flooded the streets of the Venezuelan capital of Caracas in the worst unrest there since a new president took office last year.
It began as a peaceful youth day march Wednesday in Caracas with some 10,000 college students carrying signs denouncing the nation's crime, corruption and failing economy. It then turned deadly when government forces opened fire, killing 3 protestors and injuring dozens more. Among those wounded, Carolaine Peroza's brother who was shot in the leg.
"They were just marching, just trying to speak for themselves," said Peroza. "They just want peace in their country."
The march was the latest in a series of anti-government demonstrations throughout Venezuela in which protesters have demanded the resignation of President Madura. The country has the highest inflation rate in that region and one of the highest murder rates in the world. In the past decade, the homicide rate has quadrupled.
UMSL student Irving Corrales says his family lives in Caracas and is now terrified to leave their home.
"They bought some supplies to stay inside because they don't want to be a part of the protest because there's too much violence going on outside." said Corrales. "For the first time in a couple of years the protests have gotten really close to my house."
President Madura claims that opponents are seeking to create conditions similar to a 2002 coup against then President Chavez. But both Peroza and Corrales say the government has left citizens in Venezuela living in fear.
"I even myself am scared to speak here because my family is there. I'm safe here but they are not," said Peroza
Venezuelans living in St. Louis will hold a peaceful rally Sunday at 2 p.m. on the Arch grounds to show support for their loved ones back home.