Maduro presses on with Venezuela vote de­spite protests, con­dem­na­tion

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Cara­cas, Venezuela - Venezue­lan Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro was push­ing for­ward on Satur­day with a con­tro­ver­sial week­end vote, de­spite grow­ing do­mes­tic po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion, in­ter­na­tional con­dem­na­tion and deadly street protests.

On Fri­day, his forces faced small groups of pro­test­ers de­fy­ing a ban he had im­posed on demon­stra­tions against the elec­tion he has called on Sun­day to choose a new body to re­write the con­sti­tu­tion.

Block­ades went up across a few roads in Cara­cas and in a bor­der town with Colom­bia, San Cris­to­bal as well as in Mara­caibo and Guayana, but the scale was far less than the mass protests seen ear­lier this week be­fore the ban took ef­fect.

“It’s nor­mal that there’s fear, but peo­ple are still com­ing out into the streets de­spite it all,” a law­maker in the op­po­si­tion-con­trolled Na­tional As­sem­bly, Freddy Gue­vara, said at one of the Cara­cas protests.

Maduro on Thurs­day warned that any­one tak­ing part in protests against his ‘Con­stituent As­sem­bly’ risked up to ten years in prison.

The threat ap­peared to dampen pub­lic anti-gov­ern­ment demon­stra­tions of the sort that, in the past four months, have led to 113 deaths - eight of them dur­ing a two­day gen­eral strike that ended on Thurs­day.

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

Hu­man rights or­gan­i­sa­tions said an­other ac­tivist, a 23 year old vi­o­lin­ist fa­mous for play­ing at anti-gov­ern­ment protests, had been ar­rested in Cara­cas. An op­po­si­tion mayor, Al­fredo Ramos, was also ar­rested for not lift­ing bar­ri­cades un­der a court or­der.

Mean­while, in­ter­na­tional cen­sure of Maduro re­mained fierce.

US Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence spoke by tele­phone to a de­tained promi­nent Venezue­lan op­po­si­tion leader, Leopoldo Lopez, who early this month was moved from prison to house ar­rest.

In im­plicit sup­port for the op­po­si­tion, Pence praised Lopez’s ‘courage’.

(AFP)

A pro­tester is ar­rested dur­ing clashes in Cara­cas on Fri­day

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