Venezuela opposition delays protest until Friday

Mandy Carr
August 6, 2017

The Chilean foreign minister said that a judge from Venezuela's alternative top court took shelter on Thursday at the Chilean Embassy in Caracas, which already hosts four his colleagues and an opposition leader.

The opposition, which boycotted the vote, said turnout was less than 4 million, and that account was reinforced by journalists' reports that dozens of polling places around Caracas were nearly deserted Sunday.

Although the Vatican has recently spoken very strongly about the Venezuelan crisis, with Pope Francis's top diplomat telling Crux back in May that elections are the only way out of the crisis, this is the first time the Holy See has openly challenged the constitutional assembly.

"An audit would make it possible to know the exact amount of participation", the company's CEO said.

Defying criticism from Washington to the Vatican, Venezuela's ruling party on Friday installed a new super assembly that supporters promise will pacify the country and critics fear will be a tool for imposing dictatorship.

"The United States will not recognize the National Constituent Assembly", spokeswoman Heath Nauert said.

Carlos Romero, a professor and foreign relations analyst in Caracas, called the incident "extremely grave" and said it could further complicate relations between Venezuela and Madrid. Spain's ambassador to Venezuela was among a group of legislators who visited the National Assembly on Tuesday in a show of support after the constituent assembly ellection.

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It was also widely dismissed as illegitimate by the worldwide community, who saw it as a way for Maduro to bypass the legitimate Parliament - the National Assembly - which is now controlled by the right-wing opposition.

On Sunday, Maduro said one of the priorities of the Constituent Assembly would be the "restructuring" of the office of the attorney general.

In a continuing show of defiance, Ortega Diaz filed papers Thursday seeking a court order to block installation of the new assembly. She filed the request for investigation in a lower court, after earlier filing complaints about the constitutionality of the new assembly with the nation's Supreme Court.

Smartmatic, the British technology firm contracted to handle the ballot, said Wednesday the figure of 8.1 million votes was inflated by at least 1 million.

One opposition lawmaker, Henry Ramos Allup, said this week that if forcibly expelled from the legislative palace the National Assembly could potentially hold its sessions at another site.

In the aftermath of the vote, the United States imposed direct sanctions on Maduro, calling him a "dictator", while the European Union joined the US, Mexico, Colombia and Argentina in saying it would not recognize the new assembly.

"They are bent on plowing ahead with this power grab", Shifter said, "and this is not going to stand in the way".

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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