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Venezuelans in Edmonton hold plebiscite to reject President Maduro constitution

17 Julio 2017
Venezuelans in Edmonton hold plebiscite to reject President Maduro constitution

Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans lined up across the country and in expatriate communities around the world Sunday to vote in a symbolic rejection of President Nicolas Maduro's plan to rewrite the constitution.

He says his proposed 545-member Constituent Assembly is "the only path" to peace and economic recovery.

They will not have access to traditional electoral infrastructure for the hastily-convened plebiscite, and the elections council is simultaneously holding a test-run for the July 30 vote.

Local congressional representatives Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen were on hand at the Watsco Center in Coral Gables to express their support for the Venezuelan community.

Still, the government blames its opposition and foreign enemies for the food scarcity, accusing private companies of intentionally cutting back production in an attempt to destabilize the country.

REEVES: What happens next is that they will count the votes.

If anyone was in favor of Maduro at the Tampa poll, they certainly weren't making that allegiance publicly known, Reno said.

In what appeared to be smaller numbers in many parts of the capital, government supporters went to polling stations in a rehearsal for a July 30 vote to elect members of the assembly that will retool Venezuela's 1999 constitution.

"Sometimes I can talk with my mom through FaceTime and she told me, 'We have more than three months where we cannot find sandwich bread, ' " Gonzalez said.

Left to right, Jose Virtuoso, rector of the Andres Bello Catholic University (UCAB), Raul Lopez Sayago, rector of the Pedagogical Experimental Libertador University (UPEL), Cecilia Garcia Arocha (C), rector of the Central University of Venezuela (UCV), Jessy Divo, rector of the University of Carabobo, Benjamin Scharifker, Rector of the Metropolitan University (UNIMET), "Commission of Guarantors" of the National Assembly consultation process address the media announcing the results on the plebiscite against Nicolas Maduro's regimen and his plan to rewrite the constitution, in Caracas, Venezuela July 16, 2017.

At an opposition site nearby, Juan Madriz, a 45-year-old insurance company employee, said he didn't object to rewriting the constitution per se, but rejected Maduro's decision to do so without putting that decision to a vote, as his predecessor Hugo Chavez did. The move has been criticized by the opposition and even some of his supporters as undemocratic.

Neomar Lander's coffin, one of the boys killed in the protests. Both international and Venezuelan powers have called for security forces to stop the harsh repression against demonstrators.

Venezuelans have more than 100 days protesting against the government.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles said in the afternoon that one million Venezuelans abroad had voted.

Opposition leaders have described the plebiscite as an opportunity to prepare the ground for blockading the country. A body of 500 would be elected to take charge of the revision.

Maduro called in May for a Constituent Assembly, which would have the power to rewrite the constitution and dismiss the current opposition-ruled Senate, the National Assembly.

Meanwhile, armed men on motorbikes killed a woman and wounded three people in Caracas on Sunday when they fired on Venezuelans voting in the opposition-organised ballot, prosecutors said.

Opponents of Venezuela's government blame it for turning one of the region's most prosperous countries into an economic basket case with a shrinking economy, soaring inflation and widespread shortages.

The referendum Sunday was also marred by violence.