Majority reject Maduro's plan to amendments to Venezuelan constitution

Jerome Frank
July 18, 2017

Julio Borges president of the National Assembly and deputy of the Venezuelan coalition of opposition parties (MUD) addresses the media after an unofficial plebiscite against President Nicolas Maduro's government and his plan to rewrite the constitution, in Caracas, Venezuela July 16, 2017.

Opposition leaders hailed it as a success, while also mourning the death of one woman killed by gunmen in Caracas during the voting.

In a statement released last week (12 June), the Venezuelan episcopal conference said that it "clearly perceived how the violence has acquired a structural character".

The opposition however has blamed a "paramilitary" gang for the shooting, which prosecutors said they would investigate.

"It would be hard for two presidents to meet these days without discussing Venezuela, because of its importance and the concern the whole continent has about Venezuela", Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin said.

I'm not sure there is any going backwards from here. Some 7 million people participated in Sunday's protest.

The almost 7.2 million votes "confirmed the reason why Maduro is afraid of elections that are mandated by our constitution", National Assembly President Julio Borges wrote on Twitter.

The vote in the unofficial, Opposition-organised referendum was just short of the 7.7 million who voted for the Opposition in Congress. Venezuela's opposition called for a massive turnout Sunday in a symbolic rejection.

"Overall the package is pretty radical, especially the idea of a parallel government", said David Smilde, a Tulane University expert on Venezuela. "I think it's going to embolden the global community to reject it".

The opposition's poll had the support of numerous current and former world leaders, including Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and former Mexican President Vicente Fox, whom Venezuela banned from returning to the country on accusations he promotes violence and political intervention. Moncada did not provide evidence to back his claims.

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The opposition has called on the government to call off the July 30 election of members of a constituent assembly which has the power to change the constitution as well as the country's political system.

Tampa was one of more than 75 cities in the U.S.to hold a vote, and more than 93,000 Venezuelans voted in Florida, according to NBC News.

Still, some supporters said they were disappointed.

"Today we awoke stronger". Fox said he would continue to work for a democratic transition in the South American country.

"The ruling Socialist Party can not win a free and fair election of any kind, and the Constituent Assembly is created to resolve their collective electability problem by tilting the electoral playing field in one direction", Eurasia consultancy said. "There's no separation of powers, no freedom of expression".

More than 98% of voters chose to reject the proposed constitutional assembly; request the military defend the existing constitution; and support fresh elections before Maduro's term ends in 2019. The country's chief prosecutor has recently broken with the ruling party.

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

Venezuela has been plagued by daily outbursts of anger over food shortages and an economic crisis characterised by rampant inflation. The government blames the crisis on an economic war waged by its opponents and outside backers.

The vote was open to Venezuelans in more than 90 other countries.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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