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11 stunning photos of the protest movement sweeping Venezuela

Supporters of opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez demonstrated in Caracas on February 18
Supporters of opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez demonstrated in Caracas on February 18
(RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Images)

Protests have exploded across Venezuela in recent days as citizens gather to demonstrate against the government's heavy-handed police tactics, its crackdown on political dissent, and the economic woes that have led to inflation and shortages of basic goods. These photos show just how large those protests have become — and the scale of the government crackdown they provoked, which this week led to the death of a 14-year-old boy during an anti-government rally.

Thousands protest Caracas

Thousands protest in Caracas on February 18. (Boris Vergara/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Venezuela burning barricade

A  burning barricade on a Caracas street during a February 18 anti-government protest. (Carlos Becerra/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The economic roots of the crisis

Large-scale protests began in 2014, and have continued since then. The falling price of oil, combined with longer-term economic problems, has crippled Venezuela's economy, fueling the political crisis. The country is now suffering from rampant inflation, as well as shortages of basic goods ranging from food to auto parts.

Venezuela empty supermarket

Shortages have left many Venezuelan supermarkets with empty shelves. (Carlos Becerra/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Venezuela national guard patrols supermarket

A national guard member patrols inside a Caracas supermarket on February 3. (JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images)

The February 19 arrest of a popular opposition politician inflamed the protests

President Maduro now has only a 20 percent approval rating, and has responded with a series of harsh crackdowns on political dissent, including arrests of opposition politicians. Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma, a prominent critic of President Nicolás Maduro, was arrested on February 19 on charges of plotting an American-backed coup against the government. His detention sparked another round of major demonstrations in Caracas, adding to the unrest that has been increasing since early 2014.

Venezuela Ledezma protest

Protesters rally in Caracas on February 20 to support Mayor Ledezma following his arrest. (Photo by Cristian Hernandez/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Ledezma supporter Venezuela "Basta Dictadura"

A protester at a rally for Ledezma in Caracas, holding a sign calling for the end of "dictatorship" in Venezuela. (Photo by Cristian Hernandez/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Venezuela Ledezma protesters

(FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images)

Police shot and killed a 14-year-old boy on Tuesday, sparking further protests

Protests have flared again this week after 14-year-old Kluiverth Roa was shot dead by police during an anti-government rally on Tuesday in the city of San Cristobal. Demonstrators gathered in Caracas and elsewhere to protest Roa's death, though the worst unrest was in San Cristobal, where protesters gathered at Roa's public funeral.

Venezuela protest Roa funeral San Cristobal

Demonstrators attend the funeral of 14-year-old Kluiverth Roa, who was shot by police during an anti-goverment rally on February 24. (George CASTELLANOS/AFP/Getty Images)

Venezuela protests San Cristobal fire

Students burn tires at an anti-government rally in San Cristobal on February 24, the day Roa was shot by police. (George CASTELLANOS/AFP/Getty Images)

Protester Venezuela Caracas Roa death

A demonstrator lies in the street in Caracas, covered by a Venezuelan flag, during a February 25 gathering to protest Roa's death. (Cristian Hernandez/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)