Venezuela protest deaths rise to 113

This has had a huge impact on people's everyday lives and on the country's political system. Sunday's election of delegates to the assembly comes after almost four months of political upheaval that have resulted in more than 100 deaths and left thousands injured and detained.

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 two-day general strike that ended Thursday.

About 120 people gathered in the early afternoon in the Caracas neighborhood of Altamira, some of them blocking an intersection in apparent defiance of the protest ban. That punishment will be given on Sunday with a massive participation reflected in votes.

Tensions have steadily increased under the government of President Nicolas Maduro, who continued to tighten his grip on power despite nationwide outrage against his administration of the country's crumbling economy. Where does Maduro want to take the country?

Some Venezuelans also said Socialist Party operatives had threatened to stop distributing subsidized food bags to those who did not vote. According to our constitution, we have only one way you can call Constituent Assembly - after you have uninominal votes. Although the ruling was partially rescinded, street protests have continued over food scarcities, rising crime and Maduro's autocratic actions, including what some describe as an illegal effort to rewrite the constitution.

"First of all, this is a constituent assembly that was convened illegally for one simple reason: The president doesn't have a reason to convene it; the people do". Likewise, Article 348 states that "The initiative for calling a National Constituent Assembly may emanate from the President of the Republic sitting with the Cabinet of Ministers (...)". He promises that Venezuela's new constituent assembly will bring peace.

Venezuela protest deaths rise to 113
Venezuela protest deaths rise to 113

The Democratic Unity coalition of opposition parties called on protesters to occupy several main streets on Sunday to obstruct the vote, despite the government's warning of harsh penalties. The rule prohibits voters from voting a few times. "However, what happens after Sunday's vote is critical".

Critics say the process around the assembly and a new constitution would delay overdue regional and local polls, and perhaps even the presidential election set for late 2018 - which the widely unpopular Maduro would be sure to lose. But once chosen, the 545 members elected by region and economic sector will convene within 72 hours and get to work, according to Telesur. "Because there really are no solutions on the table to this deepening crisis".

It has been badly received by the opposition which claimed it was another attempt by the executive to hold onto power.

"The bigger problem is governance. Eventually we will not have any more elections in Venezuela." . "The government of the world?" he said in a speech. "This could provoke a civil war or a military coup".

Human Rights Watch, a USA -based nonprofit group, expects the ANC to use its "frighteningly wide and vaguely defined powers" to dissolve the opposition-controlled congress, lift parliamentary immunity and prosecute opposition legislators, sack the rebellious attorney general and, perhaps, suspend the presidential elections slated for December 2018.

"Nobody wants to be the guy that raises gas prices, that's not good for elected people", says Russ Dallen, managing partner of Caracas Capital, a USA investing firm that doesn't own Venezuelan debt.

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  • Sonia Alvarado