Opposition leader Juan Guaidó has called for nationwide anti-government protests on Saturday, March 16, as tensions between President Nicolás Maduro and the opposition-led National Assembly remain high. The protests come as Venezuela faced several days of power cuts which prompted looting and other instances of violence in various cities across the country. Monitoring groups and opposition leaders allege between 15 and 50 people died as hospitals were unable to power vital equipment for its patients. Meanwhile, the US air carrier American Airlines suspended service to Venezuela on Friday, March 15, due to the security situation.
Public demonstrations in support of Guaidó or Maduro are likely to persist over the coming days. A heightened security presence is expected in the vicinity of all such demonstrations and clashes between protesters and security forces, as well as arrests, are likely.
A nationwide blackout began on March 7, causing disruptions to transportation and water distribution systems as well as cut telecommunication services. According to officials, the most recent outage has been linked to a failure at the Guri hydroelectric dam. The government has claimed the outages were caused by an act of "sabotage" by the United States; however, past outages that had been blamed on attacks were later attributed to infrastructural deficiencies.
Venezuela is experiencing an ongoing crisis spurred by President Nicolás Maduro's inauguration to a second term as president on January 10 following last year's contested election, prompting the National Assembly to declare a national emergency. At least 50 foreign governments, including the US, Canada, and Brazil, among others, have since recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the interim head of state. Guaidó has reportedly coordinated several deliveries of humanitarian aid from neighboring states which have been blocked by the Maduro regime.
Individuals in Venezuela are advised to monitor developments to the situation, adhere to instructions issued by their home governments, keep battery-operated devices fully charged whenever possible, remain vigilant for criminal behavior and avoid conspicuous displays of wealth, refrain from discussing political topics in public or on social media, and avoid all public demonstrations due to the risk of violence and arrest. In addition, individuals are advised to be cautious when driving or crossing streets if traffic signals are not functional.
The security situation in Venezuela remains complex. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel.
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