A Bloodstained Constituent Election: 14 Killed as Maduro Makes Venezuela’s Dictatorship Official

Miguel Ángel Camacho–Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro formally began the process to install himself as Venezuela’s dictator today. It began at 6 AM, when Maduro and his wife cast their vote in a constituent election which he summoned despite its illegality and despite widespread condemnation from the international community. Nevertheless, members of Venezuela’s resistance were staging protests against, which the regime had banned during several days, as early as 4 AM.

Under Maduro’s orders, Venezuela’s security forces decided to make protesters pay with their blood for their audacity in defending their own liberty. At 9 PM Caracas time, at least 14 people had been murdered, a number of deadly victims not seen in a single day since the start of the current wave of protests over three months ago.

According to official figures, only eight people were killed on Sunday, July 30. Other sources report at least 14 deaths due to violence, with most homicides taking place in the states of Táchira, Mérida, Lara and Sucre.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who ran as a presidential candidate against both Maduro and his mentor Hugo Chávez, called today’s killings a “massacre.” Capriles also called on the citizenry to take to the streets once again beginning at noon on Monday, July 31, in order to protest against Sunday’s violence.

Meanwhile, Jorge Rodríguez, a top Chavista politician who acts as mayor in a Caracas municipality, laughed when asked about today’s violent events. He also claimed that reports about deaths were lies in an attempt to credit both official figures from the Attorney General and those of the opposition.

Rodríguez claimed that millions of people voted in today’s constituent election, sending a message of defiance to Attorney General Luisa Ortega, who has opposed Maduro’s power grab since its initial announcement.

According to Henry Ramos Allup, a top opposition politician, only 2,483,000 citizens or 12 percent of those able to vote went to the polls today. This figure strikes a contrast with the plebiscite against Maduro’s constituent assembly which the opposition organized on July 16, when over 7,000,000 Venezuelans voted to stop Maduro’s attempt to turn Venezuela into a Cuban-style communist tyranny.

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