Junio 15, 2021

Venezuela to proceed with controversial vote despite global opposition

31 Julio 2017, 05:08 | Bibiana Flor

Venezuela to proceed with controversial vote despite global opposition

Venezuela to proceed with controversial vote despite global opposition

Recent surveys by the Datanalisis polling firm revealed that over 70 percent of Venezuelans opposed Maduro's proposal of the new assembly to rewrite the 1999 constitution, and 80 percent reject Maduro's leadership altogether.

Officials from Argentina, Peru and the United States said Sunday that their governments would not recognize the vote, following similar statements from Colombia and Panama.

Adding to Venezuela's growing global isolation, Colombian airline Avianca suddenly stopped operations in the country on Thursday due to "operational and security limitations".

In the months leading up to the vote, about 100 have been killed and thousands have been injured and detained in the political upheaval.

In opposition-dominated eastern Caracas, riot police used tear gas to stop protesters from gathering for a march on the capital's main highway.

Opposition leaders say it's simply a ploy to consolidate Maduro's power and pave the way to dictatorship.

The opposition is boycotting the vote which it says is a power grab by President Nicolás Maduro.

The backdrop to the vote is Venezuela's humanitarian crisis, triggered by a crippling economic collapse that has caused extreme shortages of food and medicine.

The vote marks the peak of four months of protests that have seen 110 people killed in clashes with riot police. "Best to be prepared", said one 34-year-old Caracas resident who gave his name as Maximiliano.

'I hope things get better, ' Marquez said, acknowledging that times had been tough in the country under the ruling Socialist Party government.

In a protest in the northeast town of Cumana, a 30-year-old regional secretary for a youth opposition party was shot dead in an anti-election protest.

"I ask God for his blessings so the people can freely exercise their democratic right to vote", he said alongside his wife, who is a candidate for the constituent assembly. "We will free our people using weapons".

A week before that, the United States had barred Venezuela's vice president, Tareck El Aissami, from entering the U.S., accusing him of playing a major role in worldwide drug trafficking.

Air France, US carrier Delta and Colombia's Avianca have also done so. "People cannot ignore what is happening in Venezuela".

However, Donald Kingsbury, a political science and Latin American studies professor at the University of Toronto, says it isn't just Maduro that's causing havoc in Venezuela.

But an earlier effort he headed ended in failure, and the opposition has made suspension of the Constituent Assembly a condition for it to join talks.

Critics say Maduro is less interested in rewriting the constitution, which already provides generous powers to the executive branch, than he is in obtaining the near-absolute powers that the new legislative body would have.

Some in Maduro's administration have broken ranks, most prominently his attorney general.

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