Jose De Bastos, Regional Analyst for the Americas, joins us to talk about risks and threats in South America. He’s been closely watching the economic and geopolitical developments in Venezuela and contributed to the 2019 Global Forecast report with an article on the migrant crisis affecting the region.

 

 

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 political 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.

If the current dynamic continues, US personnel and/or businesses could be targeted for kidnapping, for example, or protests could occur outside US businesses.

 

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