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Venezuela: Unofficial plebiscite planned for July 16; violence likely

Opposition forces call for an unofficial plebiscite to be held on July 16 regarding presidential elections in late 2018

05 juill. 03h23 UTC
TIMEFRAME expected from 4/7/2017, 12h30 until 5/7/2017, 12h29 (America/Caracas). COUNTRY/REGION Northern Venezuela

Event

On Monday, July 3, Venezuelan opposition parties called for an unofficial plebiscite to take place on Sunday, July 16, to determine whether citizens wish presidential elections to move forward in late 2018. Additionally, the plebiscite will question whether the armed forces should "restore constitutional order," understood by many as a call for a coup d'état against the Maduro regime. Protests are likely and a potentially violent governmental response is possible in response to the planned plebiscite.

Context

Violent and often deadly clashes between protesters and security forces continue to occur on a near-daily basis in Venezuela, most notably in the capital city of Caracas. At least 75 people have been killed and 1500 more injured due to social unrest since the beginning of the current wave of anti-government protests began in early April of this year. The vast majority of the victims have been killed by security forces, who have repeatedly been accused of excessive use of force, and the situation continues to escalate with no resolution in sight. Pro-government militias are also reportedly behind some of the violence, including another attempted attack against the AN building in Caracas on June 24. The protests regularly result in major transportation disruptions in the capital, with roads, highways, and the metro system closed by police and/or blocked by protesters.

The government has taken to offering military officers an increasing number of government positions to solidify the armed forces traditional support of the Socialist Party (PSUV) regime. Additionally, opposition within President Nicolás Maduro's administration has begun to grow. The Supreme Court is currently deliberating whether to remove state prosecutor Luisa Ortega after she voiced public opposition to the administration, with a decision expected in the coming days.

These developments follow on 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. Protesters are demanding early elections, the resignation of President Nicolás Maduro, the release of political prisoners, and humanitarian assistance from the government.

Advice

These developments follow on 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. Protesters are demanding early elections, the resignation of President Nicolás Maduro, the release of political prisoners, and humanitarian assistance from the government.

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