Shots fired at people voting outside church in Venezuela

Trevor Jackson
July 18, 2017

The White House is calling on Venezuelan authorities to cancel plans to form an assembly to rewrite the constitution and instead hold what it calls "free and fair elections".

Voting yes or no to three questions, 98% rejected the new assembly proposed by President Maduro and backed a call for elections before his term of office ends in 2019.

In this context, "suspending the process to start the Constituent Assembly would be an important gesture", added Mogherini, insisting on the "clear signal" sent on Sunday by the opposition in the consultation against the process.

The total vote would be impossible to check, he said, as opposition organisers were going to burn ballots.

More than 7.1 million Venezuelans participated in the vote on Sunday, and opposition leaders hailed the results.

Speaking on state television shortly after the polls closed, Maduro failed to make any mention of the shooting.

"We call on the whole country to launch a 24-hour national strike this Thursday, a massive, non-violent protest, as a way to pressure the government and to prepare for the final steps, which will be next week, to confront this fraud. and to restore constitutional order", he said.

Recently, the Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos, who has worked closely with the USA state department and Venezuela, asked Cuba's Raul Castro, a close ally of Maduro, to intervene in the conflict.

More than 100 people have died in political clashes since April. More than 500 people have been detained.

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Venezuela's government is set to hold an official vote on July 30 for the new constituent assembly, which would have the power to rewrite the constitution and dissolve state institutions.

Venezuela has been experiencing a period of political instability amid the drastic economic situation in the country. The opposition has vowed not to participate in those elections.

The simulation on Sunday was supervised by the Venezuelan military, with soldiers deployed to ensure there are no acts of violence at all elections.

NPR's Philip Reeves notes that number - which includes almost 700,000 expatriots who voted overseas - constitutes about a third of Venezuela's registered voters.

A view of confrontations between pro and anti-government demonstrators as members of the police patrol the area during an unofficial referendum organized by the opposition in Caracas, Venezuela, 16 July 2017.

Colombia's former President Andres Pastrana, left, embraces Lilian Tintori, left after a news conference of global observers of a symbolic referendum in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, July 16, 2017.

Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada tweeted he was banning former Mexican president Vicente Fox from the country for "conspiring to promote violence and foreign intervention". The court nullified eight of the assembly's laws between January and October 2016, after making just one such ruling in the previous 200 years, legal experts say.

"Our president Chavez supported the poor, the people", said Yveth Melendez, a 41-year-old homemaker waiting outside a school in the south Caracas neighborhood of El Valle, a stronghold of government support that has been weakening in recent years.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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