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Venezuela: Protests planned in Caracas June 21 /update 9

A protest march is set to take place in Caracas on the evening of June 21; clashes between demonstrators and security forces are likely

TIMEFRAME expected from 6/21/2017, 12:30 AM until 6/26/2017, 5:22 PM (America/Caracas). COUNTRY/REGION Northern Venezuela

Event

The United States Embassy in Caracas warned that a protest march is expected to take place on the evening of Wednesday, June 21. Specific details about gathering points and routes have not yet been released. The US Embassy advised personnel to avoid the areas of Las Mercedes, Altamire, Chacao, Chacaito, El Rosal, and Bello Campo. Violent clashes between protesters and security forces are likely. Expect increased security measures and traffic disruptions around any demonstrations.

Context

Government forces have reportedly stepped up brutal tactics; cases of protesters - including MPs, judges, and journalists - being harassed, robbed, and attacked by security forces and pro-government militias have been reported. The militarized Venezuelan National Guard police force is considered the worst offender in terms of resorting to disproportional violence when dealing with opposition elements. At least 75 people have been killed and thousands arrested during the wave of often-violent (and violently-repressed) protests that started on April 1.

Venezuela has been devastated by a long series of progressively worsening crises affecting the restive country in recent months and years, including a breakdown of the democratic system, major shortages of gasoline, medications, food, and other basic necessities, an alarming spike in rates of violent crime, massive inflation and economic recession, and a resurgence of disease. Amid the chaos, President Maduro announced his intention to rewrite the constitution via a new Constituent Assembly to be elected on July 30. Opposition forces criticize the move as an attempt by the regime to hijack the protest movement and to "eliminate" the legitimate National Assembly, controlled by an opposition coalition but essentially rendered powerless.

Advice

Individuals in Caracas and other Venezuelan cities are advised to limit movements, to strictly avoid all protests and roadblocks due to the likelihood of violence, and to closely monitor the situation.

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