Colombia 'will not recognise' Venezuela's assembly vote

PITTSBURGH PA- JULY 15 St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Jose Martinez advances to first in the seventh inning during an MLB game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals

PITTSBURGH PA- JULY 15 St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Jose Martinez advances to first in the seventh inning during an MLB game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals

Mr Maduro says the 545-member assembly, which will have the power to dissolve state institutions and rewrite the constitution, will bring peace to the convulsed country. At least four people were killed in last week's general strike. Most were young men, shot during clashes with the security forces. "The Constituent Assembly opens a path to peace", said Maduro.

Maduro says he faces an "economic war" waged by the opposition and Washington. "If they don't, the United States will not stand still", he said.

Conservative foreign affairs critic Peter Kent said the Canadian government should do the same.

Despite this being quickly reversed, the decision ignited a protest movement against socialist President Nicolas Maduro. Organizers claimed 92% support for the walkout.

TRT World's Juan Carlos Lamas has more from Caracas.

The opposition wants to stop the election, which likely would favor Maduro as his opponents largely are not running. He can count on the Venezuelan military, which has declared loyalty to him. "Any manager, superintendent, and supervisor who tries to block the Constituent Assembly, who does not vote, or whose staff does not vote, must leave his job on Monday", a PDVSA vice-president, Nelson Ferrer, said during a meeting with workers this week, according to a summary circulated within the company and seen by Reuters.

For months, violence has spiraled out of control as the struggle for food and medicine grows.

The opposition is boycotting the election, so the majority of candidates represent the ruling socialist party.

Thousands of Venezuelans loaded with heavy bags have crossed the border into Colombia this week, fleeing the unrest. Pence reiterated the White House's pledge to impose "strong and swift economic actions" if Sunday's vote goes ahead, the vice president's office said in a statement. "To be safe, we prefer to cross". Luis Almagro, the head of the Organization of American States (OAS), is reportedly planning a potential case against Maduro at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity.

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President Trump has a powerful weapon if he decides to punish Venezuela: sanctions on oil, the only source of cash for the crisis-torn nation.

Three days of protests are planned leading up to Sunday's vote, starting with the strike and culminating Friday with a demonstration billed as a "takeover of Caracas".

Venezuela's President Maduro calls the protesters "terrorists" and insists the demonstrations are a cover for a coup plot orchestrated by the US.

He warned that anybody elected to the Constituent Assembly could also be slapped with United States sanctions.

The Trump administration announced sanctions on 13 current and former members of Maduro's administration, freezing their US assets and barring Americans from doing business with them.

Given Canada's concerns about the Maduro regime, Ms. Todgham Cherniak said she wonders why the government has not yet sanctioned any Venezuelans. Inflation is expected to jump 720 percent and unemployment to reach 28 percent this year, according to a report by the International Monetary Fund.

"We're going to keep fighting, we're not leaving the streets", said opposition lawmaker Jorge Millan.

The Constituent Assembly would have power to rewrite the constitution and shut down the existing opposition-led legislature, which the opposition says would cement dictatorship in Venezuela.

About 13,000 travelers were trapped in Caracas after Colombian airline Avianca canceled service to and from Venezuela.

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