Venezuela crisis: President Nicolas imposes ban on protests that 'disturb' election

Confrontations with security forces, which have left more than 110 dead over the last four months, were relatively modest on Friday amid tropical downpours and a government ban on demonstrations and threats to jail protesters for up to 10 years.

A 23-year-old man and a 30-year-old man were killed in western Merida state and a 16-year-old boy was killed in the poor Caracas neighborhood of Petare during clashes on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Washington placed 13 Venezuelan government officials on the Treasury Department's sanctions list for "undermining democracy" on Wednesday. He said the constituent assembly lacks legitimacy and therefore, his county can not accept the result.

Critics say the body is a step towards a dictatorship, by bypassing or dissolving the opposition-held National Assembly.

Maduro branded the U.S. punishment "illegal, insolent and unprecedented".

The sanctions freeze any assets the individuals have in the United States and bar Americans from doing business with them. "The same government with all the power it has is not going to be able to control things", Molina said. He is accused of facilitating anti-Maduro protests.

Residents of the capital, Caracas, lined up for hours at grocery stores and banks to stockpile food and cash before what many expected would be a chaotic weekend.

The new body likely would favor Maduro as opposition members largely have declined to run. He can count on the Venezuelan military, which has declared loyalty to him.

Barquisimeto Mayor Alfredo Ramos, a vocal opponent of Maduro and the vote to elect delegates to a constitutional assembly, wasarrested in his office Friday afternoon by officers of the SEBIN police intelligence agency.

The hardening political struggle has deepened fears that months of street violence could worsen.

Venezuela has grappled with deadly political and economic crises as low crude oil prices have forced the government to cut back or eliminate its socialist programmes.

"We hope that the poll scheduled for Sunday, if it goes ahead, will proceed peacefully and in full respect of human rights", she said. "To be safe, we prefer to cross".

Meanwhile, worldwide censure of Maduro remained fierce.

"My mother is ill, my wife is pregnant, and if I lose my job I'll be even worse off than I am now".

Demonstrators took to the streets asking restraint from security forces after more than 70 people have been killed during nearly 90 days of protests seeking President Nicolas Maduro's removal.

Venezuela's President Maduro calls the protesters "terrorists" and insists the demonstrations are a cover for a coup plot orchestrated by the US. "This is the backdrop, and this is why the constituent assembly is being posed as one of the ways to break this deadlock and move forward".

"Venezuela has been systematically attacked by the US empire in its attempt to show a state of ungovernability and crisis in the country", Moncada said.

"The United States will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles", President Trump said in a statement earlier this month.

At the same time, Maduro's administration is being squeezed by the long-running economic crisis. Inflation is expected to jump 720 percent and unemployment to reach 28 percent this year, according to a report by the International Monetary Fund.

"But if I take my helmet off, I would say I'm totally against" the vote, he said.

The protests began following a Supreme Court ruling that stripped the opposition-controlled National Assembly of its remaining powers.

Three of the "shadow" judges have been arrested in the past few days by Venezuelan intelligence officials.


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