Maduro presses on with Venezuela vote despite protests, condemnation

Maduro presses on with Venezuela vote despite protests, condemnation

The Venezuelan government banned protests from Friday until Tuesday.

People wearing masks blocked the intersection, in part with bricks, wire, tires and other debris on the street.

In Caracas on Friday, Maduro opponents in several neighborhoods, from affluent Altamira to working-class Petare, used bricks and trash to erect dozens of barricades, which have become symbols of resistance.

Those moves came as a coalition of Venezuelan opposition groups organized a second national strike in a week. Violators could receive prison sentences of five to 10 years, according to the government.

"We will not kneel; we will not fail".

REEVES: Maduro's under growing worldwide pressure to call off Sunday's vote.

Republican U.S. lawmakers said on Friday they expected Washington would announce more sanctions on Venezuela if its government proceeds with an effort to elect a legislative body that critics call a plan to create a dictatorship.

It's not clear whether Venezuelans would have chosen to have the vote had Maduro asked them.

"They burned some of his hair", Romero said.

Global pressure to cancel the vote intensified Friday, with Vice President Mike Pence reiterating in a telephone call with opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez that the United States would respond with "strong and swift economic actions" if the election proceeds.

Meanwhile, the Colombian government said Friday that it will grant temporary legal status to more than 150,000 Venezuelans who entered the country legally and overstayed their visas.




"Opposition leaders are continuing to try to convince their supporters and Venezuelans to go out en-masse - they say they have to take to the streets, they can't let up pressure now with less than 48 hours before that vote".

The relationship between the neighbors has been strained for years. The new constituent assembly، comprising 545 members، will rival the National Assembly، now controlled by the opposition.

The new body likely would favor Maduro as opposition members largely have declined to run.

The other 181 members will be drawn from unions - another source of Maduro support - civil and social groups, business groups, and indigenous communities.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (R) and his wife Cilia Flores are seen making fists during an act of the Government in Caracas, Venezuela, 27 July 2017.

The election of a constituent assembly has been broadly condemned by countries around the world as a weakening of democracy in a country whose economy has been crippled by recession despite its vast oil resources.

For months, violence has spiraled out of control as the struggle for food and medicine grows.

The Constituent Assembly would have power to rewrite the constitution and shut down the existing opposition-led legislature, which the opposition says would cement dictatorship in Venezuela.

Although both decisions were overturned within days, opposition leaders continue to lead the protests aimed at toppling President Nicolas Maduro, removing the members of the Supreme Court, restoration of local and regional elections, and release of political prisoners.

Protests during the stoppage have left three people dead - two men, aged 30 and 23, in the western province of Merida, and a 14-year-old boy in an eastern Caracas slum, according to prosecutors.

It comes as the number of people killed in the anti-government clashes reached over 100. That never happened. But the opposition did organize an unofficial informal referendum July 16, in which more than 7 million people turned out - the vast majority to reject the very idea of the ANC.

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