Venezuelans block roads to protest Maduro constitution ploy

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called for a new constitution Monday as he fights to quell a crisis that has led to more than a month of protests against him and deadly street violence.

Yesterday, the president made a call to begin the process of the forming a Constitutional Assembly, to reform the state, improve the legal order and ensure the peace of the nation.

"This constituent assembly that Maduro has announced is a manipulation to escape elections", said student Raul Hernandez, 22, one of about 100 people blocking a major avenue in eastern Caracas.

(AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos). Opponents to President Nicolas Maduro attend an opposition May Day march in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, May 1, 2017. "All of Venezuelan knows it".

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The president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, Julio Borges, called a constitutional assembly a "giant fraud" by Maduro and his allies created to keep them in power.

From the USA government's perspective, Maduro launched this measure in an attempt to prevent the Venezuelan population from speaking at the polls after suspending regional elections that were to be held in 2016 and the municipal elections to be held this year.

Polling has suggested the socialists would lose both those elections badly at a time of widespread anger over triple-digit inflation and shortages of food and other goods.

And the Socialist Party's seeming invincibility at the polls was shattered by the opposition's thundering 2015 victory in legislative elections.

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Asked about elections in an interview on state television on Tuesday, the Socialist Party official in charge of the constituent assembly said the electoral schedule would be respected. All victims were returning home from a pro-government march in Caracas, he said. The real kicker is that the existing Constitution is only 18 years old and it was the work, largely, of Maduros mentor and predecessor, Hugo Chavez, who liked to describe it as “the best Constitution in the world”, but apparently it does not suit the needs of Maduro, a President whose popularity rates are between 8% and 15%, depending on the pollster.

Julio Borges, National Assembly president, on Monday evening called on Venezuelans to rebel.

"It's a way of calling elections that uses up energy but does not carry risk, because it's not a universal, direct and secret vote", Leon said.

Since anti-Maduro unrest began in early April, more than 400 people have been injured and hundreds more arrested. It is unclear how much time this will take, but it would put a hold on all elections in Venezuela.

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Fitzpatrick said Maduro was trying to yet again "change the rules of the game" in an effort to remain in power.

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