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This Protester Has Become A Symbol After Marching Naked Through Clouds Of Tear Gas

He walked through lines of riot police with a Bible in his hand.

Posted on April 21, 2017, at 1:20 p.m. ET

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in Venezuela for the last few weeks demanding a return to democracy through general elections. For over a year, the country has been going through widespread food shortages, growing insecurity and rampant inflation, leading to the current political unrest.

Christian Veron / Reuters

On Thursday, one of the protesters stripped and walked in the direction of tear gas where Venezuelan soldiers and riot police were standing.

Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters

The cameras captured the young man in his socks and shoes and holding a Bible in his hand, while he approached the authorities.

Juan Barreto / AFP / Getty Images

He tried to talk to them...

Juan Barreto / AFP / Getty Images

Then he climbed a security vehicle while an officer yelled at him.

"No more," he screamed, while police fired rubber pellets and teargas at him.

Joven se desnuda para pedir cese de represión. Respuesta: lacrimógenas y perdigones 2:35pm #20abr

His back was left completely covered by pellet marks.

Later that day, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro mocked the protester on a televised appearance. "Thank god he didn't drop a soap because that would've been an abominable photo, horrendous," he said.

View this video on YouTube

Nicolás Maduro sobre hombre que se desnudó y subió a tanqueta de la GN: "No tienen límite para el ridículo, lo que nos queda es reírnos".

"Nicolas Maduro on the naked man that climbed the GN tank: 'They have no limit for ridiculousness, there's nothing else for us to do but to laugh.'"

Online, many Venezuelans criticized the reaction of the armed forces.

El colmo de la barbarie y el salvajismo vestido de verde oliva. Disparar al hombre desnudo que tenía como arma un libro en la mano! #20Abril

"Barbary and savages dressed in olive green. They shot a naked man that had a bible as his only defense!"

Others showed their admiration for the man.

Realmente me parece uno de los más grandes actos de valentía el pararse completamente desnudo delante una tanqueta. Mi admiración y respeto.

"I really think it's one of the biggest acts of courage to stand totally naked in front of a tank. My admiration and respect."

Juan Barreto / AFP / Getty Images

This post was translated from Spanish.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.