Colombia leader won't recognize Venezuela's vote

Venezuelans head to the polls to cast their ballots

The opposition had called for a boycott and mass demonstrations against the election, which it called a bid by Maduro to install a dictatorship with the backing of the military.

Colombia's finance minister earlier Firday told a local radio station that his nation would sanction the same 13 current and former high-level Venezuelan officials cited by the US government earlier in the week.

The fiery unrest confirmed fears over the vote for a new "Constituent Assembly" called by beleaguered President Nicolas Maduro in defiance of months of demonstrations and fierce worldwide criticism.

The US, the European Union and Latin American powers, including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, have come out against the election, saying it would destroy Venezuelan democracy. The opposition leader was recently free from prison and transferred to house arrest.

Deadly violence erupted in Venezuela as voters went to the polls in the country's controversial election that will see a new assembly created with powers to rewrite the constitution.

In the capital of Barinas, the home state of former President Hugo Chavez, turnout appeared low.

Maduro's critics piled more pressure on the unpopular leftist leader by holding roadblocks across the nation dubbed "The Takeover of Venezuela" on Friday.

The election, and opposition rejection of it, has heightened the sense of alarm among Venezuela's citizens, who are finding it increasingly hard to survive among food shortages and runaway inflation. "And that card is the National Constituent Assembly", he said Friday.

In the opposition strongholds of eastern Caracas, teenagers manned barricades of tree branches, garbage and barbed wire torn from nearby buildings.

The vote capped another week of tensions in Caracas, where residents stockpiled food and water amid a two-day national strike and regular street protests.

Lawmaker Jose Manuel Olivares asked Venezuelans "not to be victims of fear".

"Sunday is the start of a new chapter; it's not the final one", said Pantoulas.

He called the vote "the most important election held in Venezuela's political system".

The run-up to the vote has been marked by months of violent clashes between protesters and the government.

The new legal status does not provide aid to the thousands who entered illegally.

Late Thursday the prosecutor's office released a list of 109 dead from violence related to demonstrations and street blockades across the country.

Ricardo Campos, who worked as a youth secretary with the opposition Accion Democratica party, was killed during the protest, the head of the national assembly said, according to the BBC.

The office later reported at least five more deaths via Twitter, including a police officer slain Thursday afternoon in the town of Ejido, Merida state.

Today, through a secret, direct and global vote, the Venezuelan population elect 537 parliamentarians and the remaining eight members of the assembly will be voted on August 1st amid the indigenous communities of Venezuela.

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