Three killed in Venezuela as opposition strike begins

Three killed in Venezuela as opposition strike begins

The Table of the unity democratic (MUD), the opposition coalition has already called a 24-hour general strike last week, has been organizing since nearly four months of protests nearly daily against Maduro, which he claims the starting. On 21 July, 13 new supreme judges and 20 deputies were sworn in to the opposition-controlled parliament, although other court members, loyal to Maduro, declared the election void.

A two-day general strike was organized by the opposition in defiance of the vote.

Since April 1, more than 100 people have died in street protests against Maduro's rule. The right-wing MUD coalition has maintained its belligerent position, calling for a week of actions in hopes of disrupting the elections, which have by and large failed to gain any significant support.

Venezuela's opposition kicked off a second day of a general strike Thursday after a day of street protests left three people dead, in an intensifying showdown over President Nicolas Maduro's plan to rewrite the nation's constitution.

Among those targeted are the head of Venezuela's National Electoral Council, Tibisay Lucena, and former vice president Elias Jaua, who is leading the presidential commissions organizing Sunday's vote.

A Constituent Assembly stacked with Maduro supporters, and that would be able to override lawmakers in the National Assembly, would leave power firmly consolidated in the hands of the president's socialist party, she said.

The opposition has planned another major demonstration in Caracas on Friday.

Sunday's election - called for by the Maduro government - is for a special assembly that would have powers to rewrite the South American country's 1999 constitution and dissolve state institutions.

As The Two-Way's Camila Domonoske reported last week, "Venezuela is one of the largest foreign suppliers of oil to the US, accounting for almost 10 percent of total imports".

Prosecutors said a 30-year-old man was killed Wednesday in the western province of Merida, and a 14-year-old boy was killed in Caracas' Petare neighborhood, a sprawling slum in the eastern end of the city. The most serious option is financial sanctions that would halt dollar payments for the country's oil and starve the government of hard currency, or a total ban on oil imports to the United States, a top cash-paying client.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, announcing America's sanctions yesterday, warned that any of the 545 members to be elected to Maduro's Constituent Assembly could also face US punishment.

In March, the Venezuelan Supreme Court made a decision to absorb the legislative power of the state's National Assembly.

Maduro accuses the United States of fomenting the unrest against him and his government, with the help of the conservative opposition.

Thousands of Venezuelans have also crossed the border into neighboring Colombia in the run-up to the Sunday vote, during which more violence is expected.

But some 70% of Venezuelans oppose the Constituent Assembly, according to polling firm Datanalisis.

Maduro critics also held an unofficial vote on July 16 to demonstrate public opposition.

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