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According to Venezuela’s National Electoral Council (CNE), the turnout in the controversial election for a constituent assembly was 41.5%, a figure disputed by the opposition.

The opposition coalition said 88% of voters abstained and it refused to recognize the election. It also called for more protests on July 31.

July 30 election was marred by violence, with widespread protests and at least 10 people killed.

President Nicolás Maduro hailed the poll as a “vote for the revolution”.

Venezuelans were asked to choose the more than 500 representatives who will make up a constituent assembly.

The constituent assembly was convened by Nicolas Maduro to rewrite the existing constitution, which was drafted and passed in 1999 when his mentor, President Hugo Chávez, was in office.

On July 31, the head of the CNE, Tibisay Lucena, announced that there had been an “extraordinary turnout” of more than eight million voters.

She also announced that President Maduro’s wife, Cilia Flores, was among those elected as representatives, as well as the president’s close allies Diosdado Cabello, Iris Varela and Delcy Rodríguez.

Image source Wikipedia

The announcement was met with outrage and derision by the opposition, who boycotted the vote.

Opposition politician Henry Ramos Allup said their figures suggested fewer than 2.5 million Venezuelans had turned out to vote.

With the opposition boycotting the election from the start and not fielding any candidates, it was always less about who would be elected and more about how many Venezuelans would take part in the voting.

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The opposition held an unofficial referendum two weeks before the election asking Venezuelans whether they wanted a constituent assembly at all. According to opposition figures, more than seven million Venezuelans rejected the constituent assembly in that vote.

The opposition urged Venezuelans to stay at home and even some Chavistas (supporters of the socialist movement created by President Hugo Chávez and of which Nicolas Maduro is a part) said they objected to the constituent assembly and would not vote.

There were widespread reports of public sector workers being told by their bosses to go and vote or face being sacked.


How many people turned out was therefore seen as a key indicator of support for the government.

The opposition claims that the figures are unverifiable because a number of procedures which have been in place at previous elections were not followed.

For example, voters’ little fingers were not marked with indelible ink to prevent them from trying to vote multiple times.

There were also no independent observers.

However, Tibisay Lucena said voting had proceeded “normally” and that violent outbreaks at a small number of polling stations had been controlled.

Nicolas Maduro convened the constituent assembly on 1 May amid fierce anti-government protests.

The president argued the constituent assembly would promote “reconciliation and peace”, however he did not give details of exactly how rewriting the constitution would achieve such broad aims.

Government critics fear that President Maduro wants to use the constituent assembly to maximize his power and cling on to it for longer.

As the constituent assembly will be drawing up a new constitution it has the potential to fundamentally change how Venezuela is run.

The last time a constituent assembly met in 1999, the legislature was suspended while the constitution was debated.

The opposition has called for fresh protests on July 31.

On July 30, at least 10 people were killed in protests across the country, prompting opposition leader Henrique Capriles to speak of a “massacre”.

Despite a government ban on protests and the threat of jail terms of up to 10 years for anyone disrupting the electoral process, streets were barricaded and a number of polling stations attacked ahead of the vote.

Tensions are likely to increase further on July 31 and ahead of the swearing-in of the constituent assembly members on August 2.

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Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has said he wants to resume talks with the opposition.

Nicolas Maduro also said he wanted local elections to take place.

The president’s comments came as another large demonstration is planned for April 24 after three weeks of tense protests across the country.

Demonstrators have been calling for presidential elections due next year to be brought forward and for Nicolas Maduro to step down.

The 2016 negotiations between the opposition and the government broke down when the opposition accused Nicolas Maduro of breaking agreements and using the talks to buy time.

Image source Wikimedia

Speaking during his Sunday TV program, Nicolas Maduro endorsed the idea of elections for mayors and state governors but did not mention a vote at presidential level.

“Elections – yes, I want elections now,” the president said.

“That is what I say as the head of state, and as the head of government.”

Elections for state governors were to have taken place in December 2016, and local mayoral elections are due this year.

April 22 saw silent marches across Venezuela as protestors, wearing white, showed their respect for around 20 people who have died in recent demonstrations.

Human rights campaigners say more than 1,000 people were detained during recent disturbances and over 700 are still in detention.

The opposition blames the government for a severe economic crisis which has left Venezuela with shortages of food, basic goods and medicine.

The protests were sparked by an attempt by the government-controlled Supreme Court to assume some powers of the opposition-dominated Congress.

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Venezuela has criticized a joint communiqué by 11 Latin American countries calling on its government to “guarantee the right to peaceful protest”.

Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez labeled the communiqué is a “rude meddling”.

The 11 countries also condemned the death of six people in Venezuela’s anti-government marches this month.

Venezuela’s opposition is planning a mass protest for April 19.

The government has called on its supporters to hold rival marches.

Venezuela is deeply divided between those who support the government of the socialist President Nicolas Maduro and those who blame him for the economic crisis and want him gone from power.

Image source Wikimedia

There has been a series of anti-government protests in Caracas and other major cities, as well as marches by government supporters.

In their joint statement, the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay rejected the violence, which led to the deaths of six people during the recent demonstrations.

The Latin American countries called on President Nicolas Maduro “to prevent any violence against protesters” and also called on opposition groups “to exercise their right to demonstrate responsibly so that the day remains peaceful with people expressing themselves calmly”.

They also called on the Venezuela government to quickly set dates for elections to be held “to solve the grave crisis which Venezuela is experiencing and which worries the region”.

Regional elections originally due to be held in December 2016 were postponed by the electoral council to 2017, but a date has not yet been set.

Municipal elections are also due to be held in 2017.

Minister Delcy Rodriguez also wrote that “these governments misuse international law to back interventionism in Venezuela to attempt to govern the country from abroad”.

Delcy Rodriguez ended a series of tweets by saying that “there is no imperialist force in this world which can defeat the sovereign people of Venezuela”.

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Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took part in rival marches in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas.

Anti-government protesters called for President Nicolas Maduro’s removal.

Opposition blames Nicolas Maduro for the country’s economic crisis and accuse the electoral commission of delaying a referendum that could shorten his stay in power.

The president, whose supporters also rallied in huge numbers, accused the opposition of trying to stage a coup.

The government said the opposition had failed to attract the one million people they were expecting in their march, in what the authorities dubbed the “Takeover of Caracas”.Nicolas Maduro imposes visas for Americans

Nicolas Maduro said at a rally in central Caracas: “The nation has triumphed. They wanted to intimidate the people but the people are here.

“We have defeated an attempted coup that tried to fill Venezuela and Caracas with violence, death.”

Opposition leaders said their protest had gathered at least their anticipated one million people.

Opposition politician Jesus Torrealba said: “We have shown to the world the importance of Venezuela and how much it wants change.”

Protesters said they had enough of the policies of the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela.

A small group of protesters clashed with riot police as the peaceful rally ended.

In the run-up to the march, a number of opposition politicians were detained.

The opposition hopes the march will pressure the electoral authorities into allowing them to launch the second petition needed to trigger Nicolas Maduro’s recall referendum as soon as possible.

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Venezuela has issued new protest rules allowing troops to open fire if they feel their lives are at risk during demonstrations.

The new regulation specifies a scaled approach to maintaining public order, up to and including the use of deadly force.

Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said the changes were made in response to three months of violent protests last year.

Citizen rights groups in Venezuela say the new rules are “dangerously vague”.

Vladimir Padrino Lopez said the aim was to establish a protocol to help train and improve troops’ responses to public protests.

However, the minister said the rules had been written as “a profound response to human rights, to life and to protesters”.

The Venezuelan ombudsman, Tarek Williams Saab, said the regulations were “very clear on the progressive and differentiated use of force” and the aim was “to protect human rights and rights in demonstrations”.

Photo AFP/Getty Images

Photo AFP/Getty Images

He was responding to a series of criticisms from civic groups.

Marcela Maspero of the National Workers Union called the plans “a direct threat to the working class.

“It is the workers who have been the main participants in the social protests in the country in the last few years.”

She said the country was going through hard economic times, and there had been protests about the serious problems in the food supply chain and increases in the price of petrol.

Marcela Maspero felt the government was publishing these rules as “a warning” to the workers.

Civil rights groups pointed out that the ruling was unconstitutional because the Constitution expressly forbids the use of firearms to control peaceful demonstrations.

Rocio San Miguel, who works for the NGO Control Ciudadano (Citizen Control) was quoted by the French news agency AFP as saying it was right to regulate how soldiers behaved but the new regulations were “dangerously vague and controversial”.

The rules were published a few days before the anniversary of the start of three months of anti-government protests last year in several cities in which at least 40 people died, including police and protestors.

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Venezuela’s military has admitted it committed “some excesses” during weeks of political unrest that have left 41 people dead.

The military’s strategic command chief, General Vladimir Padrino Lopez, said they were investigating 97 officers and police staff for “cruelty and torture”.

However, Vladimir Padrino Lopez stressed these were less than 1% of all officers.

Security forces have been accused of human rights abuse during the almost daily anti-government protests.

“We are able to say that 97 [officers] are being investigated by prosecutors for cruelty, for torture,” Gen. Vladimir Padrino Lopez said.

General Vladimir Padrino Lopez insists the security forces of President Nicolas Maduro respect the rule of law

General Vladimir Padrino Lopez insists the security forces of President Nicolas Maduro respect the rule of law

“That represents only 0.4% of the force,” he told Venevision television.

The protests have left at least 41 people killed and hundreds more injured on both sides.

The Venezuelan opposition and human rights activists accuse the security forces of repression and using heavy-handed tactics.

However, Vladimir Padrino Lopez insisted the security forces were acting “in accordance with the rule of law”.

“No soldiers have received orders to hurt anyone, harass or end the life of a Venezuelan,” he said.

On Thursday, President Nicolas Maduro met opposition leaders in crisis talks aimed at quelling more than two months of protests.

The demonstrations began over high levels of crime, rising inflation and shortages of basic foods, but have since grown into a wide opposition movement.

Venezuela remains sharply divided between supporters and opponents of Nicolas Maduro, who narrowly beat his bitter rival, opposition leader Henrique Capriles to the presidency last year.

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Mario Vargas Llosa has announced he will travel to Venezuela to back anti-Maduro groups.

The Peruvian Nobel Prize winning author accused President Nicolas Maduro of trying to install a “Cuban-inspired dictatorship” in Venezuela.

Mario Vargas Llosa, 78, said that all Latin American countries would be under threat if Nicolas Maduro succeeded.

At least 39 people have been killed in nearly three months of protests.

Mario Vargas Llosa has announced he will travel to Venezuela to back anti-Maduro groups

Mario Vargas Llosa has announced he will travel to Venezuela to back anti-Maduro groups

The victims come from both sides of the political divide, with hundreds of thousands of people also taking to the streets to support the government.

The unrest began in western Venezuela on February 4 and grew into a nationwide movement denouncing the economic crisis, high inflation, crime and police brutality.

Nicolas Maduro says the protests are part of a right-wing plot backed by the US to oust his democratically elected government.

Mario Vargas Llosa said he was going to travel to Venezuela on April 15 to attend a conference organized by an opposition think-tank, Cedice.

“I will go with other liberals to lend our support and show our solidarity to those who are putting a big fight against the dictatorship of Maduro,” he said.

Mario Vargas Llosa is one of Latin America’s most acclaimed writers.

He is also known for his strong political views, including his opposition to the Cuban government and political oppression in China.

The author has previously said he wanted his 1969 novel Conversation in the Cathedral to show “how a dictatorial and authoritarian government corrupts all the society”.

Mario Vargas Llosa ran for president of Peru in 1990 but lost to Alberto Fujimori in a run-off.

The number of deaths which can be connected to two weeks of anti-government protests in Venezuela has risen above 50, President Nicolas Maduro has said.

Official estimates put the number killed in clashes at 13.

Nicolas Maduro has blamed the violence on fascist groups.

The president was speaking ahead of a meeting intended to put an end to the unrest, sparked by anger at high inflation, rampant crime and food shortages.

But the main opposition coalition has refused to attend, calling it a farce.

“We will not lend ourselves to a sham dialogue that would end in a mockery of our compatriots,” the bloc’s vice-president, Jorge Arreaza, told reporters.

The number of deaths which can be connected to two weeks of anti-government protests in Venezuela has risen above 50, President Nicolas Maduro has said

The number of deaths which can be connected to two weeks of anti-government protests in Venezuela has risen above 50, President Nicolas Maduro has said

On Monday, Venezuela’s Attorney General Luisa Ortega said 13 people had died in protest-related violence. At the time, opposition groups said the number of dead was at least 15.

Speaking at a pro-government rally staged by farmers outside the presidential palace, Nicolas Maduro said there were “more than 50 dead as a result of road blocks and barricades”.

“Yesterday, an 84-year-old lady died in eastern Caracas because she was held up at a road block for three hours and died in her family’s car of a heart attack,” he said.

He did not further clarify his reasons for giving a steep increase in the death toll.

Elsewhere in Caracas, hundreds of people, mostly women, led by the wife of imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez protested against the government’s handling of the demonstrations.

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Police and opposition demonstrators have clashed in Venezuela at the end of a march that gathered tens of thousands of people in Caracas.

Several people were injured, as police fired tear gas and activists hurled stones in the Altamira district.

Supporters of left-wing President Nicolas Maduro marched in central Caracas and other cities.

Ten people have now died in nearly two weeks of protests, which Nicolas Maduro has called a coup attempt.

Nicolas Maduro says the violence is part of a strategy devised by right-wing groups, with the support of the US, to destabilize his government.

“We have a strong democracy. What we don’t have in Venezuela is a democratic opposition,” Nicolas Maduro told thousands of his supporters in Caracas.

Police and opposition demonstrators have clashed in Venezuela at the end of a march that gathered tens of thousands of people in Caracas

Police and opposition demonstrators have clashed in Venezuela at the end of a march that gathered tens of thousands of people in Caracas

Nicolas Maduro was elected last April, following the death of Hugo Chavez, who was in office for 14 years.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who was defeated in last year’s presidential election, led a march in the capital.

He spoke against the arrest, on Tuesday, of fellow opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez, accused by the government of inciting violence.

Henrique Capriles called on his supporters to carry on protesting, but to avoid any form of violence.

“There are millions of reasons to protest, there are so many problems, so many people suffering. But his movement we have built must be different,” he said.

The opposition’s main grievances are rampant crime, high inflation and the shortage of many staples. It blames the economic problems on the left-wing policies of the past 15 years.

Opposition demonstrators also took part in marches in western Tachira and Merida states.

The current wave of protests began on 12 February. Three people were shot dead at the end of those marches in Caracas by unknown gunmen.

Daily protests have been held in Caracas for the past 11 days.

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