Colombian President Rejects 'Spurious' Legislative Vote in Venezuela

Glen Mclaughlin
July 30, 2017

Three days of protests are planned leading up to Sunday's vote, starting with the strike and culminating Friday with a demonstration billed as a "takeover of Caracas". They were not met with any immediate police presence. Maduro's showing no sign of backing down, nor are his opponents.

The opposition sees it as a move towards dictatorship.

"We will not kneel; we will not fail".

Human Rights Watch, a US -based nonprofit group, expects the ANC to use its "frighteningly wide and vaguely defined powers" to dissolve the opposition-controlled congress, lift parliamentary immunity and prosecute opposition legislators, sack the rebellious attorney general and, perhaps, suspend the presidential elections slated for December 2018.

Troops were sent throughout the country to secure preparations for Sunday's vote, Adm. Remigio Ceballos said. It wasn't immediately clear whether those talks will be held or what they would yield. The opposition refused to do this as well as stop supporting sanctions by the United States on the government, another Maduro demand.

Meanwhile, the Colombian government said Friday that it will grant temporary legal status to more than 150,000 Venezuelans who entered the country legally and overstayed their visas. President Trump has said he would weigh additional sanctions against individuals who are elected to the National Constituent Assembly, as well as other punitive measures.

Patrick DeHaan, a Senior Petroleum Analyst for price-tracker GasBuddy, and Phil Flynn, a Senior Market Analyst for the PRICE Futures Group in Chicago, both told United Press International that, this week a potential ban on Venezuelan oil might have unintended consequences.

"I have a young daughter, I can't risk anything happening to me", said Maria Llanes, a 55-year-old flower-store worker who lives in a south Caracas neighbourhood dominated by armed pro-government motorcycle gangs.

Escalating tensions are the result of an upcoming vote on Sunday which could lead to Venezuela's constitution being re-written.

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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.

Voters are being told they can go to any polling station in their municipalities, in case protesters block access.

The new body is the ultimate "blank check", Attorney General Luisa Ortega said. The rule prohibits voters from voting a few times. Sunday's elections will create a constituent assembly empowered to rewrite the constitution.

"July 30 brings a total renovation, a rebirth of the original Bolivarian spirit, a rebirth of peace and a homeland of equality", Maduro said Thursday, referring to the movement started by Hugo Chavez, according to VTV.

For months, violence has spiraled out of control as the struggle for food and medicine grows. The upheaval was motivated by the Venezuelan Supreme Court's dissolution of parliament in late March and the transfer of legislative powers to the court.

The Venezuelan government banned protests from Friday until Tuesday.

It comes as the number of people killed in the anti-government clashes reached over 100.

Streets in some parts of Caracas and nearby towns were near-empty during the strike as some Venezuelans stayed home from work.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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