March 22, 2018

Venezuelans Pack Streets to Cast Vote in Constituent Assembly

31 July 2017, 08:07 | Christie Tate

Venezuelans Pack Streets to Cast Vote in Constituent Assembly

Venezuelans Pack Streets to Cast Vote in Constituent Assembly

The opposition contends the assembly would dissolve the opposition-controlled congress and turn Venezuela into a socialist dictatorship.

More than 400 people have been killed in four months of protests against the assembly.

"Maduro is isolating us from the world and transforming our country into an island, like Cuba", Borges said.

"I don't know where their hate comes from".

"A group of unknown broke into the house 39-year-old lawyer and repeatedly shot him". She also spoke of delays in some locations due to opposition protests.

Santos says he will continue advocating for a peaceful resolution to Venezuela's almost four months of political upheaval that has left at least 113 people dead.

In the west of the city, National Guard troops used armored vehicles, rubber bullets and teargas to disperse protesters blocking roads.

Four soldiers were wounded in a homemade-fireworks blast directed at them in the east of the capital. A soldier was also shot dead there.

The opposition's bid previous year to hold a recall referendum against Maduro was nixed, regional elections have been postponed and the president has repeatedly ignored Congress.

Thus virtually all the more than 5,000 candidates for 545 assembly seats are Maduro supporters.

The constitution would replace the one crafted by Chavez in 1999 in a previous constituent assembly, considered one of his legacies.

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Elsewhere, streets in Venezuela have been largely deserted with just a trickle of people heading to vote in the widely criticised elections.

Al Jazeera's Lucia Newman, reporting from the capital, Caracas, said that it was "sad and bloody day in Venezuela". From that moment on, Venezuelans have been fighting on the streets to show their disapproval towards the possibility of having a new constitution that has the aim of increasing the control of the government over the state and the population reducing thus political liberties and human rights. Of the dozens of others sites seen by the AP, two in the loyalist-heavy neighborhood of El Valle had lines of approximately 200 to 400 people.

Venezuela's chief prosecutor's office reported 10 deaths Sunday in clashes between protesters and police across the country.

"We're talking about a conflict that will last until there are elections", said Benigno Alarcon, director of the Center of for Political Students at Andres Bello Catholic University in Caracas. Vice President Mike Pence promised on Friday that the US would take "strong and swift economic actions" if the vote went ahead. Organizers said preliminary results from observers placed in almost every Venezuelan municipality indicated a small fraction of the turnout seen in previous elections had voted.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is paying homage to the late Hugo Chavez on what would have been his predecessor's 63rd birthday.

State employees, who depend on their free housing and food subsidies, have been bombarded with texts and calls telling them to vote or risk losing their lifelines.

"It's been 20 years already and we haven't had the freedom, so that's what I'm here for, voting for my country", said Viviana Salazar. "I ask God for his blessings so the people can freely exercise their democratic right to vote", the president said.

Sector-wide sanctions could prove devastating given the two countries' close economic ties and the dire state of Venezuela's finances.

People wait to vote during the election of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) at a polling station in Caracas, Venezuela, on July 30, 2017.

The absence of the opposition's participation means the pool of aspirants for the all-powerful assembly is a mixture of well-known ruling Socialist Party leaders and rank-and-file pro-government activists.

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