Venezuela: Protesters, troops clash ahead of Sunday vote


Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos says his country will not recognise the result of Sunday's vote in neighbouring Venezuela to elect a new assembly with power to rewrite the constitution، according to "BBC". On Friday, the MUD announced that they would hold the Taking of Caracas, a giant protest in the capital with analogs throughout the country meant to show the number of people against Maduro.

Protests are banned through Tuesday, and violators could get prison sentences of five to 10 years, said Néstor Reverol, the interior and justice minister.

But Maduro called for the constitutional revisions, and with pro-Maduro candidates running for numerous seats, including former ministers in his government, the body is likely to favor him. Maduro have already claimed 113 lives, according to prosecutors - eight of them during a two-day general strike that ended on Thursday.

The travel advisory added that Venezuelan security forces had arrested "individuals, including US citizens, and detained them for long period with little or no evidence of a crime" or "access to proper medical care, clean water and food".

Washington has imposed successive rounds of sanctions on members of Maduro's administration and U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence on Friday promised "strong and swift economic actions" after Sunday's vote. "Our team members, dealers and customers remain our top priorities, and we are monitoring the situation closely", Toyota said in a statement.

An electoral expert, Eugenio Martinez, noted that most of Venezuela's 20 million voters would be able to vote twice, raising questions about the validity of final turnout and balloting figures, especially with no foreign election observers present. He didn't say whether the USA would sanction Venezuelan oil imports, a measure with the potential to undermine Maduro but cause an even deeper humanitarian crisis here.

A handful say they are willing to risk their jobs to oppose Maduro. The opposition wanted to impeach Maduro after it won a National Assembly majority, but he stacked the Supreme Court with his supporters, blocking any impeachment attempts.

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.

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"There are sectors of Chavismo that aren't radical who, along with the opposition, are looking for ways out, such as a transitional government".

"But if I take my helmet off, I would say I'm totally against" the vote, he said.

Mr. Maduro has vowed to resolve the political and economic crisis through a revised constitution, but the opposition has refused to participate, arguing that it will only give the President more power.

There has been widespread global condemnation of Maduro's Constituent Assembly plan.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, announcing America's sanctions yesterday, warned that any of the 545 members to be elected to Maduro's Constituent Assembly could also face US punishment.

The hardening political struggle has deepened fears that months of street violence could worsen, perhaps even tip into open civil conflict.

Venezuela's opposition, bolstered by an unofficial vote on July 16 that saw a third of the electorate reject Maduro's plan, has called for a vote boycott.

"It's the legislature positioned against the executive and the judiciary, which is creating chaos in the state apparatus itself and a lasting deadlock that has been going on for well over a year now", Ciccariello-Maher said.