Venezuela's Maduro lashes out at 'insolent' United States sanctions


Opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro are calling for continued protests ahead of Sunday's controversial election, a day after demonstrators clashed with national guard troops in the capital in defiance of a protest ban. Many of them are responsible for allowing and even ordering the violence carried out by law enforcement during months of ongoing protests, during which countless people were injured, arrested and even murdered.

Maduro's regime has forbidden protests through Tuesday, saying violators will face prison terms of five to 10 years.

Diosdado Cabello, first vice-president of Venezuela's socialist party, says the assembly will strip legislators in the opposition-controlled National Assembly of their immunity from prosecution. The crisis has forced thousands of citizens to flee during in recent months.

Despite the USA sanctions and calls from countries including Canada to cancel Sunday's vote, the Maduro regime has shown no signs of backing down.

"We will be checking people coming from other centers (.) so we can know if people are authorized to vote", Lucena said.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has provoked global criticism and enraged his political opponents by pushing for a special assembly to rewrite the troubled South American nation's constitution.

But Maduro repeated "there was no going back" during a public ceremony where he said the process will be "a great space for dialogue" that will serve to build a "new productive economy". Professor Margarita Lopez Maya of the Catholic University in Caracas says it's easy to see what Maduro and his officials are doing.

Many believe it's a move by the president, Nicolas Maduro, to establish a full dictatorship. Any talks, he said, should happen "before the election and installation of the Constituent Assembly".

"There are sectors of Chavismo that aren't radical who, along with the opposition, are looking for ways out, such as a transitional government".

More than 100 people have died in protests and other incidents linked to the unrest, the attorney general's office has said, often without elaborating on how they died or who killed them.

The United Nations human rights office said it was "deeply concerned" about the "very tense and very hard situation" in Venezuela. "The president convened a constituent assembly and then set the rules of the game", Orlando Molina, president of the Latin American Institute for Strategic Studies and a member of the opposition, told ABC News from Caracas. By Wednesday, the resulting National Constituent Assembly will become one of the most powerful organs in the country, able to root out the last vestiges of democratic checks and balances in favour of what many fear will be a single-party authoritarian system.

Anticipating violence, the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference has released a statement urging the government to cease using violence against those who oppose socialism and reiterating its opposition to Sunday's vote.

"We don't recognize any sanction", he said. Inflation is expected to jump 720 percent and unemployment to reach 28 percent this year, according to a report by the International Monetary Fund.

The CNE leader said the voting centers will transmit voter data to a server that will inform them whether the person is eligible to vote.

Mr. Maduro has vowed to resolve the political and economic crisis through a revised constitution, but the opposition has refused to participate, arguing that it will only give the President more power.