Venezuelans protest around the world to pressure Maduro to step down

By Carmen Sesin

MIAMI — Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans are preparing massive protests in cities worldwide Saturday to pressure the country’s president, Nicolás Maduro out of office.

Venezuelans are planning to fill the streets in more than 70 cities around the world, including Caracas, Miami, Madrid, Milan, Frankfurt, Melbourne, Athens, and Beirut.

“We are breathing air of change and we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Francisco Fermin, an official with the National Assembly in Caracas who has been shot four times during protests in the past. “I plan to continue protesting, and making my voice heard,” he told NBC News in a phone interview.

Maduro, a socialist who succeeded the late Hugo Chávez in 2013, was sworn in on Jan. 10 for a second six-year term following an election that was criticized internationally as illegitimate.

Under Maduro’s rule, the country has been in a downward spiral with growing political discontent. Hyperinflation, high crime rates, as well as, severe shortages in food and medicine, have sent over 3 million Venezuelans fleeing to other countries.

“Venezuelans around the world are united more than ever,” said Karymn Salcedo, an activist in Miami with the organization “We Are All Venezuelans.”

“We Venezuelans, have regained hope,” said Salcedo, who is also helping coordinate some of the protests.

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