Voters strongly opposed President Nicolas Maduro’s plan for a new constituent assembly with the power to scrap the National Assembly and rewrite the constitution.
Archbishop Ulises Gutiérrez of Bolivar, defined Sunday as the “most important day in recent times”, a day in which “the people of Venezuela expressed its will for a total change in the path the country is taking”.
“Today, July 16, dignity won and tyranny lost”, said opposition leader Maria Corina Machado.
“The result is a remarkable show of force for Venezuela’s opposition”, New York-based Torino Capital said, noting participation also meant openly defying the government.
The referendum comes almost two weeks before a Maduro-backed vote for a constituent assembly that would be tasked with rewriting the constitution without the opposition controlled national assembly.
According to Borges, once all ballots are counted, there will be some 7.5 million votes in the latest poll, which he said would be sufficient to overturn Maduro’s mandate if there was a referendum.
About 7.2 million Venezuelans participated in the elections organized by the opposition in rejection of the Constituent Assembly. And do do you approve of the renewal of public powers in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, and the holding of free and transparent elections, as well as the formation of a government of national unity to restore constitutional order?
Although the votes were a symbolic act, they represent fully the main objective of the opposition, the party of Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD), which is to let the world know that the changes that Maduro wants to achieve are rejected by most Citizens of that Nation.
Venezuela “sent a clear message to the national executive and the world”, announced Central University of Venezuela president Cecilia Garcia Arocha, noting that 6,492,381 voted in the country and 693,789 overseas.
Mr Fox went to Venezuela on Saturday in a group of Latin American former presidents to support the Opposition referendum.
Sunday’s referendum, which was not recognized as official by Maduro’s government, asked voters three questions at more than 2,000 sites in Venezuela and in 80 different countries: whether they support Maduro’s plan for a constituent assembly; whether the military should support the current constitution and decisions of the national assembly; and if there should be early elections before Maduro’s term expires in 2018. Do they want the armed forces to back congress?
“They have convened an internal consultation with the opposition parties, with their own mechanisms, without electoral rulebooks, without prior verification, without further verification”.
The opposition plans to burn ballot papers from the informal poll so those who voted against the government can not be identified and victimized.
“We can assume that the number of people voting was less than that which would turn out to vote in a regular election”.
State media largely ignored the event, concentrating instead on a trial run on Sunday for the July 30 vote, while Maduro allies accused the opposition of inflating vote numbers.
Tibisay Lucena, president of the National Electoral Council, CNE, said on Sunday that the voting exercise was particularly important to ensure that the voters can exercise their right to vote in safe conditions. A 61-year-old nurse was shot dead and three more were injured when men on motorbikes – described by the opposition as members of a “paramilitary” – opened fire on a polling place.
He said: “I’m calling on the opposition to return to peace, to respect for the constitution, to sit and talk”.