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Venezuela opposition votes against Maduro, one shot dead

Other News Materials 17 July 2017 01:09
Gunmen in Venezuela shot into a crowd of voters on Sunday, activists said, killing one person and wounding several others during an unofficial referendum organized by the opposition to push for an end to two decades of socialist rule
Venezuela opposition votes against Maduro, one shot dead

Gunmen in Venezuela shot into a crowd of voters on Sunday, activists said, killing one person and wounding several others during an unofficial referendum organized by the opposition to push for an end to two decades of socialist rule, Reuters reported.

The opposition Democratic Unity coalition said a pro-government "paramilitary" gang opened fire in Caracas' poor neighborhood of Catia, where thousands were participating in the opposition event. TV images showed people scattering as gunshots rang out, many taking sanctuary inside a church.

"We lament this very much, with great pain," opposition spokesman Carlos Ocariz told reporters.

"But it is just one of 2,030 voting centers."

While the opposition initially said two people had apparently been killed and four wounded, the state prosecutor's office only confirmed one death and three injuries.

Sunday's symbolic poll, which asked voters' opinion on President Nicolas Maduro's plan for a controversial new congress, was aimed at denting his legitimacy further amid a crippling economic crisis and months of anti-government protests in which some 100 people have been killed.

Maduro, 54, has denounced the plebiscite as illegal and meaningless. Instead, the former bus driver and union leader is campaigning for an official July 30 vote in support of the proposed new assembly, which would have the power to rewrite the constitution and dissolve state institutions.

The opposition cast Sunday's unofficial referendum as an act of civil disobedience that will be followed by "zero hour," a possible reference to a national strike or other escalated actions against the president.

Lines formed early at makeshift polling stations at theaters, sports fields, and traffic circles in the oil-rich nation of 30 million as Venezuelans furious over food shortages and rampant inflation sought to make their voices heard.

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