Labor groups in Venezuela, including workers from the health, oil, telecommunications, education, and transportation sectors have called for nationwide protests on Thursday, August 16. Participants in Thursday's mobilization are making multiple demands, including for higher wages, better working conditions, and a return to democratic order. In addition, protesters are denouncing President Nicolás Maduro's announcement that the country must raise its heavily subsidized fuel prices to combat smuggling. In Caracas, demonstrators plan to gather at Palacio de Miraflores. An increased security presence and localized transportation disruptions are to be expected in the vicinity of any protests. Clashes between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out.
On Monday, August 13, President Maduro announced that the country's heavily subsidized fuel prices must rise to international levels in order to combat the widespread - and lucrative - practice of smuggling gasoline into neighboring countries where it can be sold at many times its local price. According to the announcement, Venezuelans in possession of the "Fatherland ID" card, introduced in 2017, will be able to continue to receive the subsidized prices. However, many people have refused to obtain the card, claiming that it is a way for the government to monitor opponents and those critical of the administration.
According to humanitarian officials, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan refugees have fled the country since the beginning of the year as Venezuela's economy continues to falter, with a large percentage settling in Colombia and Brazil. The IMF has estimated that in 2018 the Venezuelan economy will shrink by 15 percent and inflation in the country will reach 13,000 percent. Venezuelans face shortages of gasoline, food, medicine, and other basic necessities, as well as extreme rates of violent crime, social unrest, and an ongoing political crisis. Health workers are currently engaged in an indefinite strike to protest low salaries and a lack of medical supplies.
Individuals in Venezuela are advised to strictly avoid all protests due to the risk of violence amid high sociopolitical tensions.
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