Maduro under pressure as Venezuelan opposition calls "massive" strike

Lucy Bush
July 18, 2017

The so-called plebiscite was organized outside the formal electoral system, so its results were rejected in advance by the government, which faces a wave of protests that continues after over 100 days and has left nearly a hundred dead.

The opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Table (MUD), held a news conference to discuss Sunday's unofficial referendum in which almost 7.2 million Venezuelans rejected President Nicolas Maduro's government.

Maduro's government on Sunday also held an electoral event - essentially a trial run of the upcoming Constituent Assembly.

They were asked if they approve the new Constituent Assembly proposed by President Nicolas Maduro; if they want the armed forces to protect the constitution of 1999; and if they want the formation of a national unity government and fresh elections.

It is holding an unofficial referendum on Sunday to give the Venezuelan people a chance to be heard about the ANC, since Maduro called it without any warning.

Protesters are demanding a new presidential election and want Maduro to lift his ban on humanitarian aid so that needed food and medical supplies can reach Venezuelans.

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Davis said it is "time to get down to work" and make negotiations a success. Mr Barnier said: "I look forward to our negotiations this week".

More than seven million voters took part in the opposition-organised referendum on Sunday, according to academics monitoring the poll.

The opposition plans to burn ballot papers from the informal poll so those who voted against the government can not be identified and victimized. However the vote, dismissed by Mr Maduro as illegal, was largely boycotted by government supporters.

(AP Photo/Jesus Hernandez). Opposition members line up to cast their ballots at a poll station during a symbolic referendum in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, July 16, 2017.

And NPR's Greg Allen says that sentiment extends to Venezuelans living in the U.S. One expatriot, Mario Di Giovanni, tells Greg that while the vote isn't official, the process is supported by Venezuela's constitution.

The turnout is slightly smaller than the 7.7 million people who voted for opposition candidates at the 2015 parliamentary elections.

Venezuelan bishops have warned that President Maduro is seeking to establish a "socialist, Marxist and militaristic" state as tensions continue to rise in the Latin American country.

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Analysts say that if Maduro loses the support of the military his rule is all but finished.

"They (MUD) have a quiet consultation today (.) I tell them not to go insane, we make a call for them to return to peace, to sit down and talk, to begin a new cycle of dialogue for peace", said Maduro during a telephone interview with the state-owned Venezolana de Television.

Late Sunday, the prosecutor-general issued a statement stating that a shooting at the town of Catia had killed the 61-year-old Xiomara Scott and three others outside a voting center.

"We don't want a fraudulent Constituent Assembly imposed on us".

"I was mugged three times in a year, " Monique recounted, and said her husband's house was broken into.

"Our president Chavez supported the poor, the people", said Yveth Melendez, a 41-year-old homemaker waiting outside a school in the south Caracas neighborhood of El Valle, a stronghold of government support that has been weakening in recent years.

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The questions were approved by the National Assembly (Congress), which is controlled by an opposition majority, with a view to having a popular endorsement of its next actions against the Government.

Other reports by Info About Network

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