Woman killed, four injured as violence erupts during election
Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans lined up across the country and in expatriate communities around the world Sunday to vote in a symbolic rejection of President Nicolas Maduro’s plan to rewrite the constitution, a proposal that’s raising tensions in a nation battered by shortages and anti-government protests.
A 61-year-old woman was killed and four people wounded in shooting that erupted after government supporters on motorcycles swarmed an opposition polling site in a church in the traditionally pro-government Catia neighborhood of western Caracas.
The opposition mayor of the Caracas borough of Sucre, Carlos Ocariz, said progovernment paramilitary groups attacked voters outside the Our Lady of Carmen Church about 3 p.m. The chief prosecutor’s office said Xiomara Soledad Scott, a nurse, had been killed and three wounded in the incident.
Video posted to social media showed massive crowds outside the church then hundreds of people running in panic outside the church as motorcycleriding men zoomed past and shots rang out.
Maduro made no mention of the incident in comments on state television shortly after the official close of opposition polls at 4 p.m., but he called for an end to violence that he blamed on the opposition.
“I’m calling on the opposition to return to peace, to respect for the constitution, to sit and talk,” Maduro said.
In what appeared to be smaller numbers in many parts of the capital, government supporters went to polling stations in a re- hearsal for a July 30 vote to elect members of the assembly that will retool Venezuela’s 1999 constitution.
The opposition says that vote has been structured to pack the constitutional assembly with government supporters and allow Maduro to eliminate the few remaining checks on his power.