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Venezuela Votes for National Constituent Assembly

Venezuela Votes for National Constituent Assembly

Across the city, residents said they wanted President Nicolas Maduro out of power but didn't want to risk their lives or livelihoods taking on his government.

Meanwhile, the possibility of new USA sanctions against Venezuela's all-important oil sector threatens to thwart the Maduro administration's quest for constitutional revision and exacerbate unrest throughout the nation.

The fiery unrest confirmed fears over the vote for a new "Constituent Assembly" called by beleaguered President Nicolas Maduro in defiance of months of demonstrations and fierce global criticism.

The US, the European Union and Latin American powers - including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico - have come out against the vote, saying it would destroy Venezuelan democracy.

Opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro are calling for continued protests in the lead-up to this weekend's controversial election.

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He also referred to the coincidence of this historic election with other famous events in Venezuela such as the general election in 2000, won by the Bolivarian project that began the first presidential term of commander Hugo Chavez.

The election, and opposition rejection of it, has heightened the sense of alarm among Venezuela's citizens, who are finding it increasingly hard to survive among food shortages and runaway inflation.

Interior Minister Nestor Reverol announced Thursday that officials were prohibiting any protests through Tuesday.

Here in South Florida hundreds turned out last week for a symbolic vote to make sure their voice was heard in Venezuela.

Lawmaker Jose Manuel Olivares asked Venezuelans "not to be victims of fear".

He also called for the "unconditional release of all political prisoners in Venezuela, free and fair elections, restoration of the National Assembly, and respect for human rights in Venezuela", a statement from his office said.

Colombia Migration Director Christian Kruger said Friday the status will be good for up to two years and let recipients work and receive social security benefits.

The run-up to the vote has been marked by months of clashes between protesters and the government that have left at least 116 dead and almost 2000 wounded.

The new legal status does not provide aid to the thousands who entered illegally.

The government banned protests from Friday to Tuesday, raising the likelihood of more violence in volatile Venezuela. The violence has left at least 113 dead.

The circumstances in the death that occurred in the northeastern town of Cumana had yet to be investigated, according to the prosecutors' office said.

Still, there were reports of clashes between protesters and the police throughout the country. Protesters say the election of a constitutional assembly will allow Maduro to eliminate democratic checks and balances and install an authoritarian single-party system.

He is gambling his four-year rule on the 545-member citizens' "Constituent Assembly" empowered to dissolve the opposition-controlled congress and change laws as it reforms the nation's constitution.


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