WorldAware sent an alert on the unrest in Venezuela following an announcement from Nicolas Maduro on January 24. The alert is as follows.
Political instability in Venezuela is likely to prompt violent protests through late January. Avoid all demonstrations.
This alert began 24 Jan 2019 00:32 GMT and is scheduled to expire 01 Feb 2019 23:59 GMT.
- Incident: Possible violent protests
- Location: Nationwide
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Heightened security, clashes, transport and commercial disruptions
Heightened political instability in the wake of the reputed swearing-in of an interim president of Venezuela will likely prompt protests - some of them violent - nationwide, especially in Caracas, through late January. On Jan. 23, National Assembly President Juan Guaido publicly declared that he had become the nation's interim leader. Numerous governments, including the US, Canada, Colombia, Brazil, and Chile, have recognized Guaido's claim - a move that has drawn a swift negative response from the administration of Nicolas Maduro. Maduro subsequently announced the severing of diplomatic relations with the US, ordering all US diplomatic personnel to leave Venezuela within 72 hours.
Anti-government activist groups could seek to capitalize on the emerging situation by taking to the streets over the coming days. Unannounced protests, accompanied by transport and business disruptions, are possible. Protesters could build roadblocks and hold rallies along major roads and outside government offices, especially in Caracas, Maracaibo, San Cristobal, Valencia, and Barquisimeto. Public services may also be disrupted. Looting of businesses and attacks against government buildings cannot be ruled out. Clashes with members of the Bolivarian National Police (PNB), the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB), and other security forces are likely. Law enforcement will not hesitate to use water cannon, tear gas, or rubber bullets to clear demonstrations. Anti-government protesters may also pelt security personnel with crude incendiary devices or rocks.
Background and Analysis
Guaido's claim to have become Venezuela's interim president comes after the opposition-dominated National Assembly (Asemblea Nacional, AN) declared Maduro's presidency illegitimate, Jan. 15. Maduro and his allies have responded by dismissing Guaido and the AN's decisions; moreover, the Supreme Court has asked the Attorney General's Office to investigate the AN leaders, threatening them with arrest. Military leaders have so far maintained their support for the Maduro administration. It remains unclear whether Maduro's order to expel all US diplomats from Venezuela is intended simply to make an example of Washington for having recognized Guaido's claim, or whether his administration plans to sever relations with other nations that have similarly supported Guaido.
If operating in Venezuela, exercise extreme caution until the full magnitude of the situation becomes clear. Avoid all protests. Do not attempt to cross any roadblocks due to the threat of violence. If violence breaks out, leave the area immediately and seek shelter in a secure, nongovernmental building. Seek updated information on road and destination security conditions in Caracas and other major cities before attempting to travel over the coming days. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation.
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