Maduro defiant as 10 killed in Venezuela protests: ‘What the hell do we care what Trump says?’

by WorldTribune Staff, July 31, 2017

A vote in Venezuela on July 30 that was seen aimed at delivering a full dictatorship to socialist President Nicolas Maduro was marked by violence, with at least 10 people being killed, reports say.

Three people were killed by “paramilitary gangs on motorcycles who shot them in the head,” according to a report by the Argentine newspaper Clarín.

Venezuelan National Guard motorcyclists take cover during a skirmish in Caracas on July 30. / AFP

As the military relies on tear gas, rubber bullets, and armored vehicles to clear protests, observers familiar with the Maduro regime’s tactics say armed motorized chavista gangs known as colectivos are often called upon to attack protesters.

Video posted to social media also showed National Guard tanks storming the known homes of members of the opposition.

Government officials said the vote to form a new “Constituent Assembly” was successful.

Opposition leaders vowed to continue to protest the assembly, which will rewrite the constitution and parallel the elected National Assembly.

“We do not recognize this fraudulent process,” opposition leader Henrique Capriles said.

The United States, European Union, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico all condemned what was seen as a Maduro power grab.

“Maduro’s sham election is another step toward dictatorship. We won’t accept an illegit govt. The Venezuelan ppl & democracy will prevail,” U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley tweeted.

Maduro hailed the vote as a victory for the “revolution” begun by the late Hugo Chavez.

“It is the biggest vote the revolution has ever scored in its 18-year history,” he said. “What the hell do we care what Trump says?”

National Electoral Council head Tibisay Lucena, a staunch Maduro ally who has been sanctioned by the Trump administration, said the July 30 vote saw “extraordinary turnout” of more than eight million voters, 41.5 percent of the electorate.

Opposition leaders contend that 88 percent of Venezuelans abstained from voting. Opposition lawmaker Delsa Solorzano told reporters that up to 25 percent of those who did go to the polls issued a no-vote, placing a blank ballot in the election boxes.

The Associated Press reported that “Across the capital of more than 2 million people, dozens of polling places were virtually empty, including many that saw hours-long lines of thousands voting to keep the government in power over the last two decades.”

A poll conducted last week found that 72 percent of Venezuelans opposed the vote that was organized by the Maduro government.

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