Venezuela’s shield-bearing protesters

Venezuelan protesters blocked streets on Saturday, July 29, in a last-ditch effort to derail the election of a legislative superbody that opponents of President Nicolas Maduro say will give the Socialist leader a stranglehold on power.

The oil-rich but recession-racked country has been gripped by four months of protests against Maduro that have left more than 110 dead in confrontations against security forces, who have responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons.

Ahead of Sunday’s election, here’s a look at Venezuela’s young protesters, who, drawing inspiration from Ukraine’s 2013-14 revolt, don Viking-like shields in battles with security. (Reuters)

Photography by Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

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Venezuela’s shield-bearing protesters

A demonstrator holding a rudimentary shield and a knife poses for a picture before a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas, Venezuela, May 27, 2017. He said: “I protest because the situation is very tough and we are going hungry. We really need a change.” (Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Venezuela’s shield-bearing protesters

A demonstrator holding a rudimentary shield poses for a picture before a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas, Venezuela, June 17, 2017. He said: “I protest for freedom. I fight for freedom of speech.” (Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Venezuela’s shield-bearing protesters

A demonstrator holding a rudimentary shield that reads “Miraflores on fire,” poses for a picture before a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas, Venezuela, May 24, 2017. She said: “I’m protesting because Venezuela is beautiful and it’s sad that everyone has to go. I fight because I don’t want to leave Venezuela, I want to grow here.” (Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Venezuela’s shield-bearing protesters

A demonstrator holding a rudimentary shield and a tennis racket poses for a picture before a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas, Venezuela, May 27, 2017. He said: “I protest for the future of my country.” (Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Venezuela’s shield-bearing protesters

A demonstrator holding a rudimentary shield poses for a picture before a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas, Venezuela, May 27, 2017. He said: “I protest, because I want a better future for me and my family, because it hurts to get up every day and have my mother crying because there is nothing to eat at home. Because I know that if I’ve got to die here, I would die fighting for my country and not because I was shot by someone who wanted to steal my cell phone.” (Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Venezuela’s shield-bearing protesters

A demonstrator holding a rudimentary shield, poses for a picture before a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas, Venezuela, May 27, 2017. He said: “I protest for my future, for the future of my country and so I can wake up tomorrow without any fighting or dictatorship”. (Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Venezuela’s shield-bearing protesters

A demonstrator holding a rudimentary shield poses for a picture before a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas, Venezuela, June 17, 2017. He said: “I protest because before we had it all and now we have nothing. Because today we have to wake up very early to queue to be able to buy food. I live in a slum and we have lots of needs, we are going hungry.” (Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Venezuela’s shield-bearing protesters

A demonstrator holding a satellite TV antenna used as a shield poses for a picture before a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas, Venezuela, May 27, 2017. He said: “I protest for my country… we are the resistance and we are fighting for the world to understand that we live in a dictatorship. I fight for the beautiful Venezuela.” (Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Venezuela’s shield-bearing protesters

A demonstrator holding a rudimentary shield poses for a picture before a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas, Venezuela, June 17, 2017. He said: “I protest for a better future for my daughter and for a better Venezuela.” (Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Venezuela’s shield-bearing protesters

A demonstrator holding a rudimentary shield that reads “A benediction for the students”, poses for a picture before a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas, Venezuela, May 24, 2017. He said: “I am in the streets resisting because in this country we are living in a dictatorship and we want to have a better future for our children. Because food is not available, there are no jobs, no production of anything, we have high cost of living and insecurity.” (Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Venezuela’s shield-bearing protesters

A demonstrator holding a rudimentary shield that reads “Promise me you will come back tomorrow. Venezuela”, poses for a picture before a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas, Venezuela, June 17, 2017. He said: “I protest for a better Venezuela, so that we can study, so that our children have a better future and for the freedom of everybody. Because we live in a dictatorship.” (Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Venezuela’s shield-bearing protesters

A demonstrator holding a rudimentary shield that reads “Aim to the”, poses for a picture before a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas, Venezuela, June 17, 2017. He said: “I protest to have a better Venezuela… Because today most of the young people graduate and have no chance of fulfilling their goals in the country. Venezuelans don’t want any more dictatorship or repression, we want freedom.” (Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Venezuela’s shield-bearing protesters

A demonstrator holding a rudimentary shield poses for a picture before a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas, Venezuela May 27, 2017. He said: “I protest because my brother no longer lives here in Venezuela. My father has cancer and I can’t find his medicines… my mother is retired and the money is not even enough for food… we need to change this situation in Venezuela.” (Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Venezuela’s shield-bearing protesters

A demonstrator holding a rudimentary shield that reads “No. Dictatorship. 350”, poses for a picture before a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas, Venezuela, June 17, 2017. He said: “I protest for the freedom of the country.” (Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Venezuela’s shield-bearing protesters

A demonstrator holding a rudimentary shield poses for a picture before a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas, Venezuela, May 27, 2017. He said: “I protest for freedom. I’m 18 and I’m not to be blamed for this, I never voted for Chavez or Maduro. I want to know that I can study and that I can aspire to something better. This regime has robbed us of everything, robbed us of the quality of life and opportunities, so that we have nothing more to do than be here to defend our rights.” (Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

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