Defying international calls, Venezuela holds contentious election

31 Jul 2017   Venezuela

CARACAS, Venezuela — President Nicolás Maduro defiantly followed through Sunday with his pledge to hold an internationally condemned election, creating a critical new stage in a long-simmering crisis that could mint the Western Hemisphere’s newest dictatorship. In a South American nation known for election turnouts topping 70 percent, Venezuelans appeared to vote with their feet — staying away from the unpopular ballot in droves. Stinging tear gas filled the capital and beyond on a deadly day in which the Maduro government showed zero tolerance toward pro-democracy protests and stormed squares with shock troops. Those citizens who did vote came under the watchful gaze of 326,000 national guards and police. The election, decried as illegitimate by a growing number of nations, will create what critics call a puppet congress with vast powers to rewrite the constitution and supplant the opposition-controlled National Assembly, leaving all branches of government under firm socialist […]

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