The ongoing anti-government protest movement entered its 77th consecutive day on Friday, June 16, and is likely to continue. The opposition Mesa de la Unidad (MUD) party has planned a demonstration in front of the National Electoral Council (CNE) building in Caracas on June 19 to reject the Constituent Assembly. While a time has yet to be announced for the rally, there is a high likelihood of violence.
The wave of often-violent (and violently-repressed) protests, held in cities across the country, has resulted in at least 73 deaths and thousands of arrests since April 1, including the death of a 21-year-old in the town of Rubio on June 15.
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.
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 Nicolás 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.
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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