Venezuela defiant amid vote rebukes
U.S. adds Maduro to sanctions list; new assembly in wings.
Venezuela’s socialist government Monday claimed a popular mandate to dramatically recast the country’s political system even as condemna- tions of the process poured in from governments around the world and the opposition at home.
The United States added President Nicolas Maduro to a steadily growing list of high-ranking Venezuelan officials targeted by financial sanctions, escalating a tactic that has so far failed to alter the Venezuelan government’s behavior.
The Trump administra- tion backed away from earlier threats to sanction Vene- zuela’s oil industry — a move that could undermine Mad- uro’s government but raise U.S. gas prices and deepen Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis.
Electoral authorities said more than 8 million peo- ple voted Sunday to create a constitutional assembly endowing Maduro’s ruling party with virtually unlim- ited powers — a figure widely disputed by independent analysts.
The official result would mean the ruling party won more support than it had in any national election since 2013, despite a cratering economy, spiraling infla- tion, shortages of medicine and malnutrition. Opinion polls showed 85 percent of Venezuelans disapproved of the constitutional assembly and similar numbers disapprove of Maduro’s overall performance.
Independent analysts and opposition leaders estimated the real turnout at less than half the government’s claim in a vote watched by govern- ment-allied observers but no internationally poll monitors.
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles, the governor of the central state of Miranda, urged Venezuelans to protest Monday against an assembly that critics fear will effectively create a single-party state.
Maduro has said the new assembly will begin to govern within a week. He said he would use the assembly’s powers to bar opposition candidates from running in gubernatorial elections in December unless they sit with his party to negotiate an end to hostilities that have generated four months of protests that have killed at least 120 and wounded nearly 2,000.
Venezuela’s chief prosecutor’s office reported 10 deaths in new rounds of clashes Sunday between protesters and police. Seven police officers were wounded when a fiery explosion went off as they drove past trash being used to blockade a street. recognized
Members of the Venezuelan Army line up Sunday outside a poll station in Caracas for a vote on a new constitutional assembly.