Three dead as Venezuela's anti-Maduro strike goes into second day
Three dead as Venezuela's anti-Maduro strike goes into second day
Airline Avianca announces in a press release that it will no longer fly to Venezuela
28 July, 2017, 00:27
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has denounced as "illegal" the new economic sanctions leveled by the United States against Venezuelan officials over a controversial government plan for rewriting the constitution.
President Nicolas Maduro is promoting the constitution rewrite as a means of resolving Venezuela's political standoff and economic crisis, but opposition leaders are boycotting it.
There are 545 seats up for grabs and those elected would essentially replace the current National Assembly - which is controlled by opponents of President Nicolás Maduro's government. The opposition has ramped up its protest activity in the run-up to the election of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC), scheduled for July 30, announcing a week of protests and launching a two-day nationwide strike that kicked off on Wednesday.
The senior official reiterated the US threat after Washington imposed sanctions on 13 senior officials of Venezuela's government, military and state oil company PDVSA.
United States officials said the individual sanctions aimed to show Maduro that Washington would make good on a threat of "strong and swift economic actions" if he goes ahead with Sunday's vote. The most recent violence drove the death toll from almost four months of unrest above 100 Thursday.
Highways were mostly empty, and businesses shuttered across the country as millions of people observed the protest. "Then we're going to take the capital, and we're not going to allow them to have their election".
Venezuela's President Maduro calls the protesters "terrorists" and insists the demonstrations are a cover for a coup plot orchestrated by the US.
For months, violence has spiraled out of control as the struggle for food and medicine grows.
CNN Venezuela tweeted that the state of Lara and its capital, Barquisimeto, and other states have joined the strike.
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In a Twitter post, Diosdado Cabello, the vice president of the ruling Socialist Party, said Venezuela remained "absolutely calm". And it would shift to an all-out dictatorship under Maduro. While that decision was later revoked, protests have only gained momentum. Some areas came to a standstill, with streets deserted. These are the security agencies whose troops have pretty much every day been doing battle with Venezuelans on the streets of the country as they go out and protest against Maduro.
The chief prosecutor's office has released little information about the victims of the unrest, but at least 44 are believed to have been shot while participating in protests.
More than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) away from Caracas, indigenous people blocked a road in the village of Kumarakapay in the Great Savanna region.
The strike is not the first of its kind in Venezuela.
What the protesters want now, Bloomberg's Andrew Rosati toldMorning Edition from Caracas, is to halt the impending constituent assembly: "And on top of that, the main demand from the opposition is a new round of free and fair elections".
A 24-hour strike followed that turned violent.
REEVES: Yeah. They're piling pressure on Maduro to call off these elections on Sunday.
Prominent opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez made a direct appeal to the military Wednesday to withdraw its support from Maduro's plan, which he called a "constitutional fraud" aimed at eliminating democratic rule.
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Officials say they will not release the identities of the victims or where they're from until their families can be notified. Mexican officials were working with USA authorities to identify the dead, the country's foreign ministry said .
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