Polls open in Venezuela opposition vote — Nicolas Maduro

Bishops claim Venezuela is heading for dictatorship

And this has the effect of attempting to undermine the credibility of that constituent assembly and the elections for it and also drawing international attention to the cause in Venezuela of the opposition parties who have been fighting this issue for more than three months now on the streets almost every day with the loss of life and many injuries and hundreds of people winding up in jail.

"With this vote we want to say to Maduro that Venezuela can't wait".

The symbolic referendum has no legal impact, but supporters say turnout Sunday would be a signal to the world that Maduro's government is ignoring the will of the people.

The Venezuelan minister of foreign affairs added that Fox Quesada had already left Venezuela and would not be able to visit the country again. Still, some supporters said they were disappointed.

"It is definitely. encouraging to see everybody is really coming together to possibly make a change", he said.

"The great majority of Venezuelans are against the government", he said.

Venezuelan bonds were largely unchanged on Monday, perhaps reflecting sentiment that the opposition vote was not a short-term game-changer.

The opposition accuses Maduro of driving the country into bankruptcy, and of using the Constituent Assembly to entirely sideline the legislature. Moncada offered no evidence to support his accusations.

Bishops claim Venezuela is heading for dictatorship
Venezuela cop in helicopter attack attends opposition rally

The Mexican government, critical of Maduro, called for the results of the opposition consultation to lead to a "negotiated solution" to help "restore" democracy.

"We call on the whole country this Thursday to join massively and peacefully a national civic strike of 24 hours as a mechanism of pressure and preparation for the definitive escalation which will be next week", he added.

Volunteers count the ballots during an opposition-organized vote to measure public support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's plan to rewrite the constitution.

Also on Sunday, the government invited citizens to come and test the voting machines that will be put in place at the end of the month to elect members of the Constituent assembly. "Let's start a new round of talks, of dialogue for peace". "The mandate the people have given us is clear". "The constitutional assembly is something that benefits the people".

Several Latin American countries and the Catholic Church have criticised Maduro's move to redraft the constitution.

"You are a dictator, you are against the constitution".

"Basic things like food and shelter are being stripped away from them", said one South Florida voter. "There's no separation of powers, no freedom of expression". The country's chief prosecutor has recently broken with the ruling party. An opposition statement said it felt "great pain" over the shooting. Do they reject the constitutional assembly? They are being taken to jail.

Venezuela is polarised between backers of President Maduro and the opposition, which wants fresh elections. But more than a year has gone by and a judge has yet to convene a preliminary hearing to evaluate the evidence, leading the U.S. government to question the motives for his arrest and continued detention.

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