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
Opposition deputies were attacked Wednesday in Caracas by supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro armed with stones and metal tubes.
At least six lawmakers were injured, in addition to several staffers. The Maduro backers entered the National Assembly complex on Venezuela's independence day, with national guard officers watching, the Los Angeles Times reports, and opposition member Tomas Guanipa showed reporters shell casings he said came from bullets fired from the street at the assembly. Guanipa accused Maduro and his supporters of using "disproportionate violence to maintain himself in power."
Since March, at least 91 people have been killed and 2,500 injured during anti-government protests, and more than 3,000 demonstrators have been arrested. The country is dealing with a crashed economy, food shortages, and violent crime, and polls show a majority of Venezuelans oppose Maduro's push for a new constitutional convention, which will be voted on July 30. Catherine Garcia
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said a police helicopter fired shots at the Supreme Court on Tuesday and threw grenades that could have caused "dozens of deaths."
Witnesses say they heard explosions go off in downtown Caracas, Reuters reports, and Maduro vowed that "sooner rather than later we are going to capture the helicopter and those behind this armed terrorist attack against the institutions of the country." For the past three months, the opposition has protested against Maduro, while the pro-government Supreme Court has made several rulings in his favor. At least 75 people have died during the demonstrations.
Maduro wants a July 30 vote for a Constituent Assembly, which could rewrite the national charter and supersede the opposition-controlled Congress, and the opposition is calling for an early presidential election. Some supporters of the opposition, whose leaders have urged security forces to stop following Maduro's orders, believe Tuesday's attack may have been staged by the government. Earlier in the day, Maduro said if a violent revolt should occur and Venezuela is "plunged into chaos and violence and the Bolivarian Revolution destroyed, we would go to combat. We would never give up, and what couldn't be done with votes, we would do with arms, we would liberate the fatherland with arms." Catherine Garcia
The Venezuelan government is accusing the Organization of American States (OAS) of meddling in the country's affairs, and said it plans on leaving the Washington-based group as soon as possible.
The announcement came after the OAS voted to hold a meeting with foreign ministers to talk about the economic crisis and protests rocking Venezuela. Inflation is soon expected to reach 700 percent, and there is a shortage of food and medicine. Nearly 30 people have been killed during anti-government protests, including a demonstrator who was hit in the head by a tear gas canister Wednesday in Caracas.
The opposition is asking for early elections, and blames President Nicolas Maduro's socialist party for the country's woes; the government is blaming business elites. The Venezuelan government has also accused the United States of attempting to undermine Maduro's party, and Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said the OAS is focusing on her country while ignoring what she called violations of democracy in Brazil, the BBC reports. Catherine Garcia