Venezuelan agents seize two more court appointees, says opposition

AFP  Getty Images     
       Opposition demonstrators protest against President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas earlier this month

AFP Getty Images Opposition demonstrators protest against President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas earlier this month

The opposition has boycotted the vote, warning it is a power grab by Maduro but the president reckons it as the only way to peace after four months of street protests against his government in which more than 100 people have been killed.

The prosecutor's office says Rafael Antonio Vergara was slain in the town of Ejido, outside the city of Merida, without offering further details.

Anti-government protests have become an nearly daily occurrence since the loyalist Supreme Court unsuccessfully tried to strip the country's opposition-led legislature, the National Assembly, of its power in late March. The constituent assembly is aimed at bringing the nation back together to rewrite the constitution, but the opposition fears its ultimate goal is to bypass the National Assembly that it controls.

The fresh sanctions were meant to dissuade Maduro from holding a controversial election, scheduled for Sunday, for a constituent assembly charged with overhauling the country's charter, Trump administration officials said. Instead it's voicing full support for the embattled government of President Nicolas Maduro, a key ideological and economic ally.

And global outcry only goes so far: The prospect of hitting Venezuela with worldwide sanctions is limited at the UN by the country's ties with China and Russian Federation, and at the Organization of American States (OAS) by loyalty from Caribbean nations who have benefited from cheap oil sales from Venezuela in the past, O'Neil says.

The Daily Mail - which calls the democratically-elected Maduro Corbyn's "dictator pal" - says the Labour leader made the comments in 2014, a year before he was elected party chief. So far, three of them have been detained.

With the approach of controversial elections on Sunday to pick a 545-seat Constituent Assembly to rewrite the constitution, the opposition and the Maduro government skirmished in the streets.

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The Venezuelan government gets more global criticism.

A recent study by a group of Venezuelan universities showed that 93 per cent of respondents said they did not have enough income to buy the food they needed.

Thirteen countries in the 35-member Organization of American States (OAS), a regional political bloc - including the US, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina - urged Maduro to suspend Sunday's election because it amounted to a "dismantling of democratic institutionality". "The election is set up in a way that all but ensures the assembly will be packed with Maduro supporters".

U.S. 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.

Maduro accused the U.S. of fomenting the unrest against him and his government, with the help of the conservative opposition.

"It is exclusively up to the Bolivarian people and government to overcome their difficulties without foreign intervention in their internal affairs", Machado Ventura said at an event in the northwestern city of Pinar del Rio. He calls on Venezuelans "to stop this with peaceful resistance and deep commitment to our efforts".

"We are on the brink of their trying to annihilate the republic that you swore to defend", Lopez said in a 15-minute video message.

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