Tensions remain high across Venezuela as of Friday, January 25, after opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself the country's iterim president on January 23. Protests and related violence have broken out across the country, notably in the capital Caracas, repotredly killing at least 26 people. Protests are expected to continue in Caracas and other cities in the coming days; a heightened security presence is also likely. Clashes between security forces and protesters are likely.
In the meantime, President Nicolás Maduro announced on January 24, Venezuela would close the US embassy and all US consulates across the country following the US recognition of opposition leader Guaidó.
Internet disruptions affecting social media platforms and mobile services continue to be reported as of Friday. Further communication disruptions are possible in the coming days.
Venezuela experienced several months of violent anti-government protests in 2017, coinciding with ongoing political, economic, social, and health crises. At least 125 people died during these demonstrations. Significant unrest also broke out in 2014 following the last presidential elections and again in early 2016. All told, hundreds of people have been killed during protests - many by security forces who have repeatedly been accused of excessive use of force - with thousands more wounded and arrested.
Maduro has faced mounting international pressure following attempts to marginalize opposition leaders, including creating a new pro-government legislative body and an election condemned by the UN, EU, and many western states, which saw him winning with nearly 70 percent of the vote. Maduro was inaugurated for a second term on January 10, 2019, prompting the National Assembly to declare a national emergency. Many foreign governments responded by withdrawing their foreign missions and the Organization of American States (OAS) declared it would not recognize Maduro as Venezuela's head of state.
Individuals in Venezuela are advised to strictly avoid all protests due to the risk of violence and arrest amid high sociopolitical tensions.
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