Maduro dismisses vote rigging charge, delays launch of new assembly

Gustavo Petro

In a letter, he said that following the "unjustified arrests" of opposition leaders Antonio Ledezma and Leopoldo Lopez, he would like to consider "freezing assets and imposing travel ban to the European Union to the members of the Venezuelan government including its president, Nicolas Maduro and its entourage".

"This protocol has been followed in all Venezuelan elections since 2004, except for the elections last Sunday, because the opposition didn't participate", Mugica said.

More than 120 people have been killed in the protests, drawing worldwide condemnation of the security forces' heavy-handed tactics.

"Yesterday's illegitimate elections confirm that Maduro is a dictator who disregards the will of the Venezuelan people", Mnuchin said. Fidel Castro's fiery denunciations of the American "imperialists" was a key part of the late Cuban leader's persona.

"I don't take orders from the empire", he shouted to a televised gathering of supporters. "Because I don't comply with foreign governments? I'm a free president", he said.

Luisa Ortega Diaz told CNN on Wednesday that she's started an investigation into potential voter fraud and manipulation surrounding the recent election backed by Maduro. Independent analysts have expressed doubts at that number.

"Maduro is not just a bad leader", said U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.

The head of the National Election Council, Tibisay Lucena, said the claim by a British election-technology firm was "irresponsible", and she threatened to begin legal action against the company. There are food shortages, medicine shortages (which is why clinics and hospitals do not have the medications their patients need and why so many people are dying in these places), agriculture is a total mess, there is no real industrial output, the oil market has collapsed, and now tens of thousands of Venezuelans are trying to escape the country any way they can. The election was harshly criticized by the opposition and led to mass protests across the country.

Protests appear poised to intensify after 10 people were killed in the weekend vote for the new legislative superbody expected to give the ruling Socialist Party sweeping powers.

But the vote was boycotted by opposition parties, who claimed that Maduro would rig the outcome. Maduro's response has been to assail spreading street protests with an iron fist and to erode the power of the National Assembly, in which his opponents have a majority.

It is due to be installed tomorrow (Aug 2).

"This constituent assembly is the hope of an entire country", he said.

The Maduro government faces worldwide opprobrium for presiding over economic meltdown and this week, detaining opposition figures.

The foreign ministry in Moscow said in a statement it hopes countries "who apparently want to increase economic pressure on Caracas will display restraint and abandon their destructive plans".

But the truth is, there's little they can do to punish president Nicolás Maduro's repressive regime that doesn't also hurt Venezuelans.

Lopez and Ledezma were picked up by the intelligence service known by its acronym Sebin, their families said, adding that they held Maduro responsible for the men's lives.

"The Maduro administration is sending a terrifying message to all people in Venezuela: dissent will not be tolerated in any form", said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International. The Maduro government is determined to form the 545-member constituent assembly.

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