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Calm and Order in Elections for Constituent Assembly in Venezuela

31 July 2017

While emphasising that the constituent assembly was "not convoked by the people", the Venezuelan bishops urged government and opposition supporters to resist resorting to violence. Mexico said it would support USA sanctions, and the Organization of American States and the European Parliament have also expressed support for the opposition.

The opposition planned further protests on Sunday despite a government ban and prison sentences as high as 10 years for protesters.

For more on the Assembly vote in Venezuela, CGTN's Susan Roberts spoke with Assistant Professor of Latin American Studies Gabriel Hetland from the State University of NY at Albany.

The Swiss Foreign ministry has said it is "deeply concerned" about the current situation in Venezuela and that the election of a new constituent assembly in the country should be scrapped.

Opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro are calling for continued protests in the lead-up to this weekend's controversial election.

The bodies of two men shot dead, aged 28 and 39, were found after a protest Sunday in the western state of Merida, where a 38-year-old man was killed on Saturday in another demonstration. Some voters said they believed the new assembly might improve life in Venezuela.

Despite four months of deadly protests and the threat of US sanctions, Venezuela on Saturday found itself 24 hours away from a consolidation of government power that appeared certain to drag the OPEC nation deeper into a crisis that has entire neighborhoods battling police and paramilitaries while the poor root for scraps in piles of trash.

Several foreign airlines have suspended flights to the country, and families of United States diplomats there have been ordered to leave. It says Maduro, backed by a loyal military, is moving toward autocracy in a bid to cling to power.

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In opposition-dominated eastern Caracas, riot police used tear gas to stop protesters from gathering for a march on the capital's main highway.

Election to new legislative body turns deadly as candidate and youth opposition leader are killed.

The election, and opposition rejection of it, has heightened the sense of alarm among Venezuela's citizens, who are finding it increasingly hard to survive among food shortages and runaway inflation.

"I bought food to get through the next few days". Avianca, a Colombian carrier, cut flights indefinitely from Thursday. "We will free our people using weapons".

Meanwhile, Alfredo Romero, director of Foro Penal, a lawyers' group, said that Wuilly Arteaga, a young violinist who has become a symbol of anti-government protest in Venezuela, had been detained while performing.

The head of Datanalisis, Luis Vicente Leon, said the Constituent Assembly was being formed because the uncharismatic Maduro - whose term is meant to finish next year - "can't win elections".

Some in Maduro's administration have broken ranks, most prominently his attorney general.

Calm and Order in Elections for Constituent Assembly in Venezuela