Clashes kill 3 during Venezuela's anti-Maduro general strike

Factbox - Venezuela crisis takes toll on airline service

Factbox - Venezuela crisis takes toll on airline service

The deadliness of four months of violent anti-Maduro protests was further confirmed with the death by gunfire of a 30-year-old man in a demonstration in the west of the country.

That added to the previously announced death of a 30-year-old man, also in mountainous Merida state.

"These sanctions are a fresh attempt to persuade Maduro to cancel Sunday's elections for a new assembly that'll have the power to rewrite Venezuela's constitution", according to NPR's Phillip Reeves.

The barricades were blocking many roads and access to Caracas, where clashes continued into the night.

The Venezuelan government gets more global criticism. Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has spoken with the opposition and with ruling Socialist Party officials about postponing the constituent assembly election, according to three opposition sources. In the past, Maduro's administration has denied charges from Washington, calling them a pretext to try to topple socialism in Latin America and win control of Venezuela's oil sector. Opposition leaders maintained he was hit by a canister of tear gas fired by National Guard troops standing above the bridge where he was found dead.

As of Thursday, 106 people have been killed in Venezuela's political unrest since April, the attorney general's office told CNN.

Maduro said in a speech on Wednesday, after the White House imposed sanctions against 13 current and former Venezuelan officials. They say the use of sectoral candidates, who had to collect signatures and file them to the government-leaning elections council, was a way to weed out anti-government aspirants.

"It is exclusively up to the Bolivarian people and government to overcome their difficulties without foreign intervention in their internal affairs", Machado Ventura said at an event in the northwestern city of Pinar del Rio.

With crippling shortages of basic goods and soaring inflation, protest organizers claimed 92 per cent of businesses and workers support the strike.

And under no circumstance should the United States intervene directly against Maduro's government.

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"As a president, I appeal to him, to President Donald Trump: Stop aggression towards Venezuela".

Opposition leaders won a majority of seats in Venezuela's National Assembly in midterm elections in December 2015.

The hardening political struggle has deepened fears that months of street violence could worsen, perhaps even tip into open civil conflict.

Thousands of Venezuelans have crossed the border into Colombia this week, fleeing the unrest.

They targeted four senior Venezuelan officials that the USA said were promoting that election or undermining democracy in Venezuela, along with five others implicated in violence or repression amid the country's political crisis.

"We are on the brink of their trying to annihilate the republic that you swore to defend", Lopez said in a 15-minute video message.

Key members of the Organization of American States have urged Maduro not to go through with his plans.

Maduro critics also held an unofficial vote on July 16 to demonstrate public opposition.

At the same time, Maduro's administration is being squeezed by a long-running economic crisis.

The oil export-dependent economy will shrink 12 per cent this year, after a contraction of 18 per cent last year, the International Monetary Fund said.

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