More than 100,000 New Yorkers have roots in Venezuela and they're closely watching events back in their homeland where weeks of protest against the Marxist government have left at least five people dead and the country in a state of siege. NY1's Lindsey Christ has more.
"No more killings!" was a rallying cry for hundreds who gathered in Times Square Thursday to protest the violence between the government and opposition in Venezuela.
"We are here for Venezuela, fighting for Venezuela, crying for Venezuela," said one rally attendee.
But the unrest has only continued as anti-government protests and counter-protests organized by the government rock the nation.
"They are not doing well," said one rally attendee.
Demonstrators were calling for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to resign, blaming his government for not addressing issues like violent crime and food shortages.
"The fact that you have a family over there and you see they don't have any food, any kind of medicine. It's unfair," said one rally attendee.
"It's almost impossible to live your life in Venezuela without being subject to unwanted violence, without being subject to hunger, without being subject to hardship that's unnecessary and is caused by the government's oppression towards the people," said another rally attendee.
This week, Moduro accused the U.S. of being behind efforts to undermine his regime and kicked three American diplomats out of the country. But President Obama has said the problems stem from issues within the country.
"The government ought to focus on addressing the legitimate grievances of the Venezuelan people," Obama said.
Venezuelans who moved here to escape the problems say it's been extremely difficult to watch the recent violence from afar.
After being robbed at gunpoint twice, Maria Alicia Rodriguez moved to New York in March. Now she says she's so filled with worry and guilt, she hasn't slept in weeks.
"We are working, we are okay, we can walk in the street without being afraid and it's not fair. Because my family is smelling pepper gas every day because a car explode near my home," Rodriguez said.
Like many other Venezuelans here, she tells NY1 she's determined to raise awareness of what's happening at home.