Venezuela Even Closer to Civil War Following Sunday’s Opposition Referendum

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Avenida Bolivar de CaracasThe ongoing constitutional crisis in Venezuela has moved even closer to outright civil war. On Sunday, July 16, the main opposition parties organized an informal referendum to challenge President Nicolas Maduro’s changes to the constitution.

As Maduro denounced the vote as meaningless and possibly criminal, millions of Venezuelan voters turned out to forcefully reject Maduro’s administration. According to opposition leaders, 98% of the 7.2 million voters rejected Maduro’s planned constitutional assembly, which seeks to rewrite the constitution starting July 30.

During the vote, government supporters on motorcycles fired into a crowd of voters, injuring three people and killing a 61-year-old woman. It was the latest bloody chapter in the civil unrest that has raged in Venezuela for months. Supporters of Maduro’s socialist government have clashed violently with protesters and opposition politicians since April, and so far about 100 people have lost their lives.

Earlier this month, pro-government militias stormed the Venezuelan congress with metal bars and began beating opposition politicians, injuring four.

According to The Independent, opposition leader and National Assembly Vice President Freddy Guevara said on Sunday that violence would not deter the opposition.

“The day was stained by the killing of a Venezuelan woman who was protesting and exercising her rights,” Guevara said. “But violence cannot hide what has happened. The people are not afraid and are clear in their decision.”

In addition, Guevara called for a national strike on Thursday, July 20 to put more pressure on Maduro.

Maduro was unmoved, saying, “I urge the opposition: “Don’t go crazy, calm down.” As president of the republic, I make a call for peace.”

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