Venezuelans cast ballots in opposition vote

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Venezuelan's opposition said more than 7.1 million people responded to its call to vote Sunday in a symbolic rejection of President Nicolas Maduro's plan to rewrite the constitution, a proposal that has raised tensions in a nation suffering through widespread shortages and months of anti-government protests.

A protester paints "No to the Constituent", referring to the assembly Maduro wants to rewrite the constitution.

According to Datanalisis, 70 percent of voters taking part in Sunday's consultation are expected to reject the Constituent Assembly.

Maduro's government on Sunday is also holding an electoral event - essentially a trial run of the upcoming Constituent Assembly. “The cancellation of the constitutional assembly would be a victory for the Venezuelan people.”. Catia is a suburb of Caracas, the capital of the country.

Still, the government blames its opposition and foreign enemies for the food scarcity, accusing private companies of intentionally cutting back production in an attempt to destabilize the country. Nearly 100 people have been killed.

In other questions, the referendum asks citizens if Venezuela's public institutions should be restored in accordance with the Constitution and whether the South American country should hold presidential elections before Maduro's term ends in 2018.

Hurtado said she hopes the referendum vote shows the world that many Venezuelan people are against the current political administration.

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He has presented his proposed 545-member Constituent Assembly, drawn from various sectors of society, as "the only path" to peace and economic recovery.

Venezuela's unrest has caused fatalities among both demonstrators and security forces, mostly from gunshots, as well as hundreds of arrests and thousands of injuries since April. He has said this will bring peace in Venezuela.

Venezuelans abroad, casting ballots in some 80 countries, concurred.

"The reality of tomorrow will be very different from that of today", said National Assembly President Julio Borges on Sunday morning.

In the nonbinding referendum, roughly 98 percent of voters rejected President Nicolas Maduro's plan to replace the constitution. The government blames the crisis on an economic war waged by its opponents and outside backers. However, the vote has no legal status.

The body that will rewrite the country's 1999 Constitution will be made up of 545 members, with 364 representing regions and another 181 representing various social sectors - workers, farmers, people with disabilities, students, retirees, the business sector, communes and communal councils. According to the chief prosecutor's office, a 61-year-old woman was killed and four people were wounded by gunfire that erupted when armed government supporters on motorcycles surrounded the site. Former presidents Laura Chinchilla (Costa Rica), Vicente Fox (Mexico), Andrés Pastrana (Colombia), Jorge Quiroga (Bolivia), and Miguel Rodríguez (Costa Rica), were greeted by opposition leader María Corina Machado. "Now they've invented this July 16 thing to put the burden on their own people and evade their responsibility", Socialist Party Vice President Diosdado Cabello said Saturday.

Queues started to form early and there was a festive atmosphere in most places. But he also urged Venezuelans to "participate peacefully".