Venezuelans brace for unrest, stockpile food ahead of Sunday vote

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Venezuelans brace for unrest, stockpile food ahead of Sunday vote
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30 July, 2017

Many have people defied a ban on rallies and took to the streets on Friday night.

Maduro accuses the U.S. of fomenting the unrest against him and his government, with the help of the conservative opposition.

"We urge the authorities to manage any protests against the Constituent Assembly in line with worldwide human rights norms and standards", she continued, calling on those opposing the election and the Assembly to do so peacefully.

Pressure on state employees is higher than ever, according to interviews with two dozen workers at institutions ranging from state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) to the Caracas subway, as well as text messages, internal statements, and videos seen by Reuters.

Venezuelans have been observing a 48-hour general strike form Wednesday deploring the possibility that their President could gain more sweeping powers.

His decision led to almost daily demonstrations by opposition supporters across the country that have led to more than 110 deaths since April.

Henrique Capriles, the governor of Miranda state whom the Supreme Court in April disqualified from running for future elective office for alleged mismanagement of the state budget, called on protesters to flood the streets to protest the vote.

That may have been more of an effort to pressure Maduro than to respond to the country's security situation, which has been challenging for years, said one former senior Central Intelligence Agency official. It called late Friday for massive marches on the day of the assembly vote. 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.

Tensions have steadily increased under the government of President Nicolas Maduro, who continued to tighten his grip on power despite nationwide outrage against his administration of the country's crumbling economy. Aside from rewriting the constitution, the National Constituent Assembly could function as a sort of super-body that assumes the powers of the National Assembly, the only government branch not controlled by Maduro.

Venezuela was less than four days from a vote that would start the process of rewriting its constitution by electing members of a special assembly to reshape the charter.

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An additional 173 delegates will come from various categories of social groups including laborers, students, farmers and fishermen.

He slammed threats of further sanctions from "emperor Donald Trump", and hit back at accusations that he was turning into a tyrant.

But on Friday, Rubio said further sanctioning would be on its way if Maduro follows through on the "sham" elections. Of course, I was insane!

This, Aria believes, could lead to a repeat of "the Cuban model" in Venezuela.

Plenty of rural areas and working-class urban neighborhoods were bustling, however, and the strike appeared less massively supported than a one-day shutdown last week.

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

The most recent reported fatality occurred Friday when an 18-year old protester was killed in San Cristobal.

Caraqueños, as residents of capital city Caracas are known, woke to the sight of debris-strewn streets where demonstrators clashed with security forces during the week.

Over 190 people were arrested during the stoppage on Wednesday, said local rights group Penal Forum. Since April, authorities have rounded up almost 4,800 people, of whom 1,325 remain behind bars, the group said.


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