Opposition activists confront riot police during a protest against the government in Caracas on May 12, 2017.
Daily clashes between demonstrators -who blame elected President Nicolas Maduro for an economic crisis that has caused food shortage- and security forces have left 38 people dead since April 1. Protesters demand early elections, accusing Maduro of repressing protesters and trying to install a dictatorship.
 / AFP PHOTO / FEDERICO PARRA        (Photo credit should read FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images)
FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images
Opposition activists confront riot police during a protest against the government in Caracas on May 12, 2017. Daily clashes between demonstrators -who blame elected President Nicolas Maduro for an economic crisis that has caused food shortage- and security forces have left 38 people dead since April 1. Protesters demand early elections, accusing Maduro of repressing protesters and trying to install a dictatorship. / AFP PHOTO / FEDERICO PARRA (Photo credit should read FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:54
Why Venezuelans are protesting
TOPSHOT - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro holds a national flag during the closing of the campaign to elect a Constituent Assembly that would rewrite the constitution, in Caracas on July 27, 2017 on the second day of a 48-hour general strike called by the opposition.
Venezuela's opposition called for a nationwide protest on Friday in outright defiance of a new government ban on demonstrations ahead of a controversial weekend election. "The regime declared we can't demonstrate... We will respond with the TAKING OF VENEZUELA tomorrow," the opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable, said Thursday on its Twitter account.
 / AFP PHOTO / Federico PARRA        (Photo credit should read FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images)
FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro holds a national flag during the closing of the campaign to elect a Constituent Assembly that would rewrite the constitution, in Caracas on July 27, 2017 on the second day of a 48-hour general strike called by the opposition. Venezuela's opposition called for a nationwide protest on Friday in outright defiance of a new government ban on demonstrations ahead of a controversial weekend election. "The regime declared we can't demonstrate... We will respond with the TAKING OF VENEZUELA tomorrow," the opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable, said Thursday on its Twitter account. / AFP PHOTO / Federico PARRA (Photo credit should read FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:46
US met with Venezuela officers plotting coup
Venezuelan citizens wait in line to cross to Ecuador at the Rumichaca international bridge in Ipiales, Colombia, on August 11, 2018. - The "unusual" increase in the migratory flow of Venezuelans, which reached 4,200 people a day, prompeted Ecuador to declare state of emergency in provinces bordering Peru and Colombia. (Photo by LEONARDO CASTRO / AFP)        (Photo credit should read LEONARDO CASTRO/AFP/Getty Images)
LEONARDO CASTRO/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Venezuelan citizens wait in line to cross to Ecuador at the Rumichaca international bridge in Ipiales, Colombia, on August 11, 2018. - The "unusual" increase in the migratory flow of Venezuelans, which reached 4,200 people a day, prompeted Ecuador to declare state of emergency in provinces bordering Peru and Colombia. (Photo by LEONARDO CASTRO / AFP) (Photo credit should read LEONARDO CASTRO/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:56
Chaos in Venezuela triggers mass exodus
detonaciones desfile militar caracas maduro ruidos brk mirador mundial osmary hernandez_00004223.jpg
vtv
detonaciones desfile militar caracas maduro ruidos brk mirador mundial osmary hernandez_00004223.jpg
Now playing
02:18
Venezuelan President evacuated from stage
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 30:  (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a joint press conference with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari at the Rose Garden at the White House April 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. The two leaders also met in the Oval Office to discuss a range of bilateral issues earlier in the day.  (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
he Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 30: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a joint press conference with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari at the Rose Garden at the White House April 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. The two leaders also met in the Oval Office to discuss a range of bilateral issues earlier in the day. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
Now playing
01:59
Trump asked advisers about invading Venezuela
venezuela prison riot joshua holt newton lkl_00004530.jpg
Facebook/Josh Holt
venezuela prison riot joshua holt newton lkl_00004530.jpg
Now playing
02:03
American jailed in Venezuela fears for life
 Carolina Wong and Jorge Salas sit with their daughter, Akira, before they leave Venezuela for Peru.
Khushbu Shah/CNN
Carolina Wong and Jorge Salas sit with their daughter, Akira, before they leave Venezuela for Peru.
Now playing
01:54
Family tearfully leaves Venezuela
Now playing
01:30
Dad remembers son killed in Venezuelan unrest
venezuelan flag
venezuelan flag
Now playing
01:19
Venezuela to US: Military action a 'crazy act'
Now playing
01:36
Panetta on Trump: This is not reality TV
Lilian Tintori
Now playing
02:09
Venezuela: Opposition leaders seized
Voters receive instructions by a Venezuelan Bolivarian National Guard officer outside a polling station during the election for a constitutional assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, July 30, 2017.
Ariana Cubillos/AP
Voters receive instructions by a Venezuelan Bolivarian National Guard officer outside a polling station during the election for a constitutional assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, July 30, 2017.
Now playing
00:56
Venezuelan candidate shot dead before election
Anti-government activists set up a barricade during protests of the election for a Constituent Assembly in Caracas on July 30, 2017. Deadly violence erupted around the controversial vote, with a candidate to the all-powerful body being elected shot dead and troops firing weapons to clear protesters in Caracas and elsewhere.
RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images
Anti-government activists set up a barricade during protests of the election for a Constituent Assembly in Caracas on July 30, 2017. Deadly violence erupted around the controversial vote, with a candidate to the all-powerful body being elected shot dead and troops firing weapons to clear protesters in Caracas and elsewhere.
Now playing
01:27
Violent protests over Venezuelan election
Masked opposition demonstrators take part in clashes with riot police ensuing an anti-government protest in Caracas, on July 26, 2017.
Venezuelans blocked off deserted streets Wednesday as a 48-hour opposition-led general strike aimed at thwarting embattled President Nicolas Maduro's controversial plans to rewrite the country's constitution got underway. / AFP PHOTO / FEDERICO PARRA        (Photo credit should read FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images)
FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Masked opposition demonstrators take part in clashes with riot police ensuing an anti-government protest in Caracas, on July 26, 2017. Venezuelans blocked off deserted streets Wednesday as a 48-hour opposition-led general strike aimed at thwarting embattled President Nicolas Maduro's controversial plans to rewrite the country's constitution got underway. / AFP PHOTO / FEDERICO PARRA (Photo credit should read FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:49
Why Venezuela is in crisis
Venezuela caught in chaos newton dnt_00000000.jpg
Venezuela caught in chaos newton dnt_00000000.jpg
Now playing
01:46
Caught in the chaos in Venezuela

Story highlights

Thousands of elderly Venezuelans marched against President Nicolas Maduro

Some demonstrators shielded their faces from bursts of police pepper spray

CNN —  

This time it was the “abuelitos” – Venezuela’s grandparents – who took to the streets.

On Friday, the face of the latest in an almost daily series of sometimes deadly protests against the government of President Nicolas Maduro changed from the bandana-wearing, rock-throwing rage of the country’s youth to the lined faces and mournful eyes of its oldest citizens.

An elderly woman with a walker leads a group of desmonstrators during a grandparents' march on the streets of Venezuela's capital on Friday.
FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images
An elderly woman with a walker leads a group of desmonstrators during a grandparents' march on the streets of Venezuela's capital on Friday.

Thousands of elderly Venezuelans, some accompanied by their grandchildren, encountered lines of riot police officers blocking parts of the so-called “Grandparents’ March” through the streets of Caracas.

Some demonstrators pushed against the plastic shields of officers, who at times responded with bursts of pepper spray, according to videos posted on social media.

A video posted by Caracas Mayor Helen Fernandez showed marchers shielding their faces from what she said was police pepper spray.

Venezuelans have been suffering from severe shortages of food and medicine.

Protests have raged across the country since the Venezuelan Supreme Court – stacked with the President’s loyalists – attempted to take away legislative power from the opposition-led National Assembly in late March.

A protester turns away from a line of police officers blocking the path of marchers on Friday.
JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images
A protester turns away from a line of police officers blocking the path of marchers on Friday.

Many blame Maduro for the crisis, which intensified after his administration barred opposition leader Henrique Capriles from running for any political office for 15 years.

Capriles on Friday tweeted a photo of a woman who said she is 97 years old as she stood before of phalanx of national guard troops in riot gear.

Protesters and international observers have accused the government of taking a heavy-handed response to the protests, including the firing of tear gas canisters and water cannons. At least 38 Venezuelans have died since the unrest began.

On Friday, some elderly Venezuelans wore improvised gas masks. One mask was fashioned from a plastic bottle.

At least 38 Venezuelans have died during weeks of unrest.
JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images
At least 38 Venezuelans have died during weeks of unrest.

The country’s problems have unraveled the lives of most Venezuelans, who must cope with shortages of home staples like milk, flour and toilet paper, rolling blackouts, rising unemployment and soaring violent crime.

For the elderly, life is tougher. Many live on public pensions that pay them about $15 dollars a month. People older than 70 cannot purchase private medical insurance.

Protester Rafael Prieto, an 80-year-old cab driver, said government repression against the marchers saddened him. Prieto said he had one wish for his grandchildren: “The best of life – peace, food and medicine.”

CNN’s Marilia Brocchetto, David Willians and Julia Jones contributed to this story.