Venezuelan soldiers shot and killed two armed attackers who stormed into a military base on Sunday in the city of Valencia, President Nicolas Maduro said.
About 20 armed men — some civilians, a few soldiers — entered the base, and went straight to where the weapons were stored; Socialist party officials said eight were arrested, including at least three members of the military, while the rest escaped with weapons. Anti-government protesters are angry over Maduro move on Friday to install a controversial Constituent Assembly, which backs him and has the power to dissolve all government bodies. Anti-government protests have been raging across Venezuela for four months, with the opposition speaking out against Maduro and the country's recession, inflation, and food and medicine shortages. Catherine Garcia
A Venezuelan military base was subject to a "terrorist" attack late Saturday night, said Diosdado Cabello, head of Venezuela's ruling party and a loyalist of the deeply unpopular President Nicolas Maduro.
However, video posted on social media before the incident suggests it may have been a coup attempt instead, as the clip shows members of a Venezuelan army unit demanding "the immediate formation of a transition government." "This is not a coup d'etat," the speaker says. "This is a civic and military action to re-establish constitutional order. But more than that, it is to save the country from total destruction."
Meanwhile, Venezuela's new Constitutional Assembly on Saturday ousted the nation's top prosecutor, Luisa Ortega, sending guards in riot gear to keep her from her office. Ortega, a Maduro critic, was replaced by one of his supporters.
The Constitutional Assembly was created a week ago under a Maduro proposal to dissolve the country's former legislature, which was dominated by his opposition. The vote that installed the new legislature is under investigation, as independent polling suggests the Maduro government massively inflated turnout numbers and rigged the election in its favor.
All this political unrest comes as Venezuela continues to suffer a major economic crisis under Maduro's regime; food shortages are serious and inflation is high. Read The Week's explanation of the country's descent into chaos. Bonnie Kristian
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is expected to install the country's highly controversial constituent assembly on Friday, which will have more power than any other branch of government.
The 545 delegates were elected on Sunday, but because the opposition boycotted the election, most are pro-Maduro. Maduro has already said the assembly will take away constitutional immunity from opposition lawmakers and target Luisa Ortega Diaz, the country's chief prosecutor, by putting the office in a state of emergency and restructuring it; she has already filed a court order to get the assembly's installation stopped, and has ordered prosecutors to investigate allegations of election tampering, The Associated Press reports.
Opposition leaders have called for protests on Friday, and several lawmakers have said they won't step aside quietly. "The only way they'll get us out of here is by killing us," said Freddy Guevara, first vice president of the National Assembly. "They will never have the seat that the people of Venezuela gave us." Catherine Garcia
Early Tuesday, Venezuela's intelligence service, Sebin, raided the homes of two leading opposition leaders, Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma, and took them away, according to statements and video posted online by López's wife and Ledezma's daughter. Both men were under house arrest for their role in 2014 anti-government protests, and they were presumably re-arrested over recent protests against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, including one on Sunday in which at least 10 people were killed. Both López, the 46-year-old founder of the People's Will party (pictured), and Ledezma, a 62-year-old former Caracas mayor, made recent videos encouraging protest.
Maduro held a vote on Sunday to create a powerful constitutional assembly with the authority to rewrite the constitution in his favor, bar gubernatorial candidates, and disband any branch of government deemed insufficiently loyal, likely starting with the opposition-controlled legislature, the National Assembly. The National Electoral Council said the new assembly was approved amid a robust turnout of 8.1 million people, despite the opposition boycott, Maduro's terrible poll numbers, and Venezuela's terrible economy and food shortages; an outside exit poll put voter turnout at 3.6 million. The U.S., Europe, and most Latin American countries called the vote a sham, and the U.S. slapped sanctions on Maduro. Peter Weber
As many as 14 people were killed Sunday in Venezuela during violent protests against President Nicolas Maduro's election to create a constitutional assembly.
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles said as many as 14 people died during demonstrations, while the prosecutor's office confirmed gunfire killed at least six people, including a national guardsman. Many Venezuelans stayed away from the polls, calling the election a sham. The assembly would rewrite the constitution and have nearly unlimited powers to dissolve institutions like the parliament, now controlled by the opposition. The opposition believes the assembly would turn the country into a dictatorship, and the election is being criticized by many foreign governments as being illegal. Catherine Garcia
Venezuelans vote Sunday on a proposal from the widely unpopular President Nicolas Maduro to create a new legislative body called the Constituent Assembly and dissolve the National Assembly, which is dominated by Maduro's opposition.
Because opposition leaders have called for a boycott of what they consider an illegitimate vote, Maduro's plan to consolidate his power is expected to pass. The ballot comes after months of unrest over massive shortages of basic foods and goods thanks to the Maduro government's socialist policies.
President Trump recently issued targeted sanctions against pro-Maduro Venezuelan politicians and has threatened "strong and swift economic action" against Maduro if the Constituent Assembly is created. Mexico, Colombia, and Panama sanctioned the same leaders, and the Organization of American States denounced Sunday's vote. Bonnie Kristian
A woman was killed and four others wounded Sunday in Venezuela, as opposition leaders held a symbolic referendum on President Nicolas Maduro's plan to rewrite the country's constitution.
The woman, a 61-year-old nurse, died during a shooting in western Caracas; the mayor of the borough of Sucre said pro-government paramilitary fighters on motorcycles attacked voters waiting outside of a church. The official vote for a new assembly that would be able to rewrite the 1999 constitution is set for July 30, but opposition politicians decided to hold the symbolic referendum to put pressure on Maduro. The voters on Sunday were asked to vote yes or no on three questions: Do they reject the constitutional assembly? Do they support an early election being called before Maduro's current term expires in 2018? Do they believe the military should protect the government the way it is? Hundreds of thousands of people are thought to have voted in Venezuela and expat communities.
Venezuela is experiencing an economic crisis, made even worse due to falling oil prices. Since anti-government protests stared earlier this year, at least 93 people have been killed, 1,500 wounded, and more than 500 arrested. Catherine Garcia
Anti-government protests began springing up across Venezuela in late March, and documents seen by Reuters show that since then, at least 123 members of the country's military have been detained on a variety of charges, including treason and theft.
The documents list the detainees by their rank, and there are lower-ranking members of the army, navy, air force, and national guard on there, as well as sergeants, captains, and lieutenants. They are being held in three different jails, and the records show that since April, close to 30 people have been charged with abandoning their post or desertion, and nearly 40 for rebellion, treason, or insubordination; almost all of the rest were charged with theft, Reuters reports.
There are about 150,000 members of the Venezuelan military, and most of their salaries start out as the equivalent of $12.50 a month, Reuters says. Venezuela is experiencing an economic crisis, with shortages of food and medicine, and some military members have defected to the opposition or left the country; three lieutenants went to Colombia in May and requested asylum. "This shows low morale and discontent, and, of course, economic necessity," a former army general told Reuters. Catherine Garcia