Vot­ers to opine on charter bid

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL -

CARA­CAS, Venezuela — Venezuela’s op­po­si­tion said Mon­day that it will hold a sym­bolic referendum to give vot­ers the op­por­tu­nity to re­ject Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro’s plans to re­write the con­sti­tu­tion.

The plan an­nounced by Na­tional Assem­bly Pres­i­dent Julio Borges es­ca­lates the op­po­si­tion’s ef­fort to fight Maduro’s pro­posal. Borges said the vote would be held July 16 — two weeks be­fore Maduro is ask­ing Venezue­lans to go to the polls to choose del­e­gates for a spe­cial assem­bly to over­haul the charter.

“We want the peo­ple to de­cide,” Borges told a crowd of op­po­si­tion lead­ers gath­ered in eastern Cara­cas. “To­day we’re united in a sin­gle bloc to de­fend our con­sti­tu­tion.”

Protests against Maduro have swept across Venezuela the past three months, leav­ing at least 80 peo­ple dead and hun­dreds more jailed or in­jured, and the op­po­si­tion-con­trolled leg­is­la­ture has em­braced an agenda of civil dis­obe­di­ence.

Polls show that barely 20 per­cent of Venezue­lans fa­vor rewrit­ing the late Hugo Chavez’s 1999 con­sti­tu­tion — about the same level of sup­port for Maduro.

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