Venezuelan opposition leaders directed a protest Tuesday to the center of Caracas as the Bolivarian National Guard, and riot police officials blocked the streets and met them with tear gas and pepper spray.

The protest was to get members of Congress to vote for removing the Supreme Court justices who had staged a coup against the National Assembly. The vote was suspended, as National Assembly leaders were unable to reach the legislative building.

Venezuela Protests, Coup
Protesters confront Bolivarian National Police Officers during a march toward the National Assembly. Image credit: Efe/Cristian Hernández.

Protests in Venezuela regain momentum

As the protest was increasing in size, authorities closed the nearest subway stations and streets to sabotage protesters. A parallel march was staged by government supporters, although the two demonstrations did not meet.

Eventually, armed pro-government groups tried to disperse the opposition protest by arriving at the spot and firing shots into the air, resulting in one activist being hit by a bullet.

Venezuela Protests, Coup
Bolivarian National Police officers retain two female protesters at a march carried on April 4, 2017, in Caracas, Venezuela. Image credit: Efe/Cristian Hernández.

Amid the protest, women knelt and sung the national anthem as neighbors banged pans and pots as a way of protest against the regime.

Political tensions in Venezuela are on the rise after the Supreme Court dissolved the National Assembly, an act that has been called unconstitutional even by Venezuela’s Prosecutor General Luisa Ortega Diaz.

What has happened so far

Shortly after being met with dissent both in the international and national scene, the Supreme Court reversed the rulings, but that did not quell the opposition, as they are now trying to force the justices who passed the rule to resign from their position.

The current Supreme Court is controlled by pro-government judges, who were quickly put into position just before the opposition gained control of the National Assembly, as they had acquired the vast majority of votes in the electoral process that took place in 2015.

The National Assembly’s lawmakers were sworn into office in January 2016, and since then, the Maduro regime has done everything in its power to stop it from getting through with its constitutional duties.

Venezuela Protests, Coup
In the skirmish of April’s 3 protests, Congressman Juan Requesens, one of the youngest leaders in the opposition, ended up with a sharp wound above his eye, allegedly made by pro-government bike gangs. Image credit: EFE.

A year of parliamentary disputes later, the Supreme Court had passed over 40 rulings claiming that the National Assembly was out of order, which according to the government, makes any of its decisions unbinding for the rest of the state.

On the other hand, the opposition argues that they were elected by the vast majority of Venezuelans in a legal demonstration of sovereignty. Because the National Assembly is supposed to control and decide who presides over the Supreme Court, the National Assembly has the right to continue its duties as they are expressed in the Constitution.

As both sides try to turn their arguments into a reality, the truth is that Venezuela is living through the most severe crisis in its history, with shortages of food, water, and health care that have plummeted the quality of life of the average Venezuelan.

The government blames the opposition, claiming that they are controlled by outside interests and that they are sabotaging the country, leading to the current crisis.

In contrast, the opposition explains that because the government is in total control of all entities, distribution systems, electrical plants, and all of Venezuela’s oil, which is its sole economic backup as 90 percent of all products are imported, there is no other explanation other than the government is immensely corrupt and that it has failed to improve the quality of life of Venezuelans.

What’s to come

As this is being written, neighbors are banging on pots and pans, a typical method of protest in Venezuela, while cars and trucks are blaring their horns and smaller protests start to take place in the capital’s suburbs.

The largest protests so far occurred in 2014, directed by opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez. The protests ended up dividing the country even more and with 43 deceased amid the events. The demonstrations revealed the barbaric methods of the National Guard and riot police officials, as they were captured on video by aficionados. Above all, there are the “colectivos,” which are armed politicized thugs that help the government disperse opposition protests, as they do not have to respond to any official or body of the law.

These thugs remain untouched by justice because the government maintains control of the penitentiary system, the justice system, and many times police officials are known to be the thugs themselves, only that they remove their uniform.

Venezuela Protests, Coup
A group of young demonstrators faces up Bolivarian National Police members on Tuesday, April 4, in Caracas Venezuela. Image credit: Efe/Cristian Hernández.

The country remains vigilant as the government censors the media. CNN has been removed from Venezuela’s networks. Venezuelans rely on social media and independent sources to have an accurate description of what’s going on in the rest of the nation.

On the international side, the Organization of American States has recognized the coup and is now in session for taking measures to help find a solution, where the most likely one appears to be proposing an electoral calendar to solve the crisis.