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Local man with family in Venezuela during protests

Local man with family in Venezuela during protests

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - The anti-government demonstrations have been going on for three weeks in Venezuela.  Now a man with close ties to the country is trying to raise awareness about the violence.

The Idaho Falls man has relatives living in Venezuela, including his father. He said there is violence about a mile away from his dad's home and where he grew up.

Josue Perez has lived in Idaho Falls since 2001. Perez spent his childhood in Maracay, Venezuela.

"My mother said there wasn't a clear future for us in Venezuela so we came to America," Perez said.    

His mother, brother and sister live in America, while his other relatives are in Venezuela. Recently, the country has seen anti-government protests that have left eight people dead, according to CNN. Perez said the Venezuelan government is to blame for the violence.

"They are very emotional, it is very scary. I have several cousins and second cousins who are students in college and they are out there protesting," he said.     

Many people are protesting against a climate of soaring inflation, spiraling crime and food shortages. They blame President Nicolas Maduro for what is going on in the country.

"Fear is what is going on through their heads but also their willingness to fight for their freedom," Perez said.

Meanwhile, Maduro spoke to foreign correspondents over the weekend and said the opposition is causing problems in order to destabilize his government.

"I have decided, as you know, to organize a national peace conference for next Wednesday with all of the social sectors, workers and religious leaders of this country," said Maduro.

But that announcement hasn't stopped opposition protestors, mainly young people and students, from taking to the streets. The opposition said the current government is a dictatorship and they want change now. But Maduro said Venezuela has a socialist government.    

Perez said he hopes the U.S. government can put pressure on organizations like the United Nations to step in and restore peace.

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