Caracas(July 31, 2017): A wave of bloodshed swept Venezuela as troops cracked down on violent protests against elections to choose the members of a powerful assembly that President Nicolas Maduro has tasked with writing a new constitution.
Protesters attacked polling stations and barricaded streets around the country, drawing a bloody response from security forces, who opened fire with live ammunition in some cases.
At least 10 people were killed, prompting the United States to threaten further “strong and swift” sanctions on Maduro’s government.
Maduro has decreed a ban on protests during and after the vote, threatening prison terms of up to 10 years.
The socialist president is gambling his four-year rule on the 545-member assembly, which will be empowered to dissolve the opposition-controlled congress and rewrite the constitution.
But the unrest fueled fears that his insistence on convening the assembly — despite months of demonstrations and fierce international criticism — would only plunge the country deeper into chaos.