President Nicolas Maduro rebuffed calls to hold new elections amid growing international pressure as of Sunday, January 27, after the governments of Britain, France, Germany, and Spain, issued an ultimatum to the hold fresh elections within eight days to determine the country's leadership. The US, meanwhile, called on more nations to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as the Venezuela's interim president, shortly after Israel announced its support for the opposition. Guaido also indicated that opposition leadership is in contact with military officials to discuss forcing Maduro out, although he declined to provide additional details.
The Venezuela government on Saturday, January 26, rescinded an order expelling US diplomats from the country and the Foreign Ministry stated it would provide the US with a 30-day window to discuss the future of their respective foreign missions.
Guaido told supporters during a rally on Friday, January 25, that more protests should take place if the government attempts to detain him. Although neither the government or opposition party have issued definitive calls for protests as of Sunday, January 27, further demonstrations are possible in Caracas and other cities in the coming days; a heightened security presence is to be expected. Clashes between security forces and protesters are likely.
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, including the US, Canada, and Brazil, among others, have since recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim head of state.
Individuals in Venezuela are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all public demonstrations due to the risk of violence and arrest, refrain from discussing political topics in public, and adhere to all instructions issued by their home government and local authorities.
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