On Monday, June 5, anti-government protests continued for the 74th consecutive day, which have resulted in at least 65 people being killed and thousands more arrested. Sit-ins and protests were organized in the capital Caracas and across the country after 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; they believe that the process is inherently skewed in favor of the Maduro administration.
Jailed opposition leader Leopoldo López has urged opposition demonstrators to continue to protest.
On a related note, 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. On May 31, a Venezuelan judge, Nelson Moncada, was shot and killed at a street barricade in Caracas's El Paraíso district. The militarized Venezuelan National Guard police force is considered the worst offender for resorting to disproportional violence.
Maduro's proposal of a new constituent assembly has been approved by the (government-aligned) National Electoral Council. The National Assembly has been under opposition control since December 2015 following a landslide victory, leading to various attempts by the Maduro administration and the Maduro-aligned Supreme Court to dissolve it; the body has already been rendered effectively powerless.
For nearly two months, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators across the country have been denouncing a wide range of grievances and demanding elections through mass protests and marches, many of which have resulted in violent clashes with police and military forces. 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.
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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