Thousands of people are taking to the streets in Venezuela today to commemorate the first anniversary of a large wave of anti-government protests in which 43 people were killed and more than 3,000 were arrested.

Pro- and anti-government supporters, many of them college students, have attended competing marches in Venezuela's main cities.

Government supporters say they are marching as a show of support for President Nicolas Maduro. Last year, Maduro heavily criticized the protesters, saying they were responsible for destroying public property and the deaths of several police officers.

The opposition said they are marching to remember the victims who were killed by Venezuelan security forces and paramilitary groups during the protests, many of whom were students. At least 10 police officers were also killed during the demonstrations demanding that Maduro step down.

On Feb. 12, 2014, students organized a march in downtown Caracas, and were met by resistance from police. Two opposition supporters and a member of a pro-government organization were killed in Venezuela's capital during the marches that day, unleashing a wave of protests that gripped the country for much of the year.


Many Venezuelans are tweeting about the marches under the hashtag #12F, where they've posted some pictures of the heavy police presence on the streets.

In the morning some opposition protesters who went to a mass for last year's victims were met by a contingent of riot police.


In Caracas, riot police blocked protesters from taking certain routes.

In Barquisimeto, government supporters marched down one of the city's main avenues.


Opposition protesters in San Cristobal, Tachira state were met by a heavy contingent of National Guardsmen.


By midday, police had clashed with protesters in Tachira. The state, located on the border with Colombia, saw some of the most intense protests last year.

In Caracas' Chacao district, clashes broke out between opposition protesters and the National Guard.


The National Police attempted to clear students away from an avenue in Caracas' Chacao district using tear gas and rubber bullets.


News agency AFP reported that eight people ‚ÄĒ three protesters and five policemen‚ÄĒ were injured during clashes between students and police in San Cristobal. Police stopped protesters from walking into a government office to file a petition.

Manuel Rueda is a correspondent for Fusion, covering Mexico and South America. He travels from donkey festivals, to salsa clubs to steamy places with cartel activity.