Venezuela crisis: Violence fears as strike action begins

Venezuela Responds to President Trump's Call for Sanctions

"The United States will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles", Trump said in his statement.

The deep economic crisis is made worse by the falling price of oil, which accounts for about 95% of Venezuela's export revenues and was used to finance some of the government's social programmes.

The Venezuelan people deserve global support.

"The constitutional assembly is happening", Moncada said, adding that Venezuela is "conducting a deep review of relations with the USA government because we don't accept humiliation from anyone".

The conservative opposition, which has the backing of the United States, has opposed the initiative and even organised an informal poll on Sunday to gauge support.

US President Donald Trump has threatened "swift economic actions" against Venezuela if that election happens.

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The threats come after record high numbers turned out to participate in the historic dry run vote for the ANC, which is aimed at easing tensions and creating a more representative constitution.

While that number can not be independently verified, it's roughly equivalent to the number of votes garnered by winning candidates in recent Venezuelan elections, an indication that Venezuelans would vote down the constitutional assembly if asked in an official referendum.

Opposition members shout slogans against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro as they waits for the results of a of a symbolic referendum in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, July 16, 2017.

And senior administration officials who briefed reporters Tuesday denounced what they called the "dictatorial" regime in Caracas and demanded a "re-establishment" of democracy.

The 24-hour strike was meant as an expression of national disapproval of Maduro's plan to convene a constitutional assembly that would reshape the Venezuelan system to consolidate the ruling party's power over the few institutions that remain outside its control.

"The fear we have, and which we are afraid to say out loud, is that this situation could turn into a bloodbath", he said.

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"There are now about 15,000 Cubans in Venezuela", he said.

"We have been blocking the streets since yesterday and we will do it all week", said protester Ester de Moreno.

"We've been watching what's been going on".

Four hours into Thursday's action, it was looking more successful for the opposition than a similar action a year ago, which had a lukewarm response after the government threatened to seize closed businesses.

Maduro said on national television that he'll press ahead with plans to rewrite the nation's constitution and said that hundreds of Venezuela's largest companies are functioning "at 100 percent" despite the strike. In cities like Barcelona and NY, turnout roughly tripled that of 2013 figures.

Meanwhile, the opposition has called for several days of actions, which have already led to more deaths and increased violence, in its efforts to overthrow the Bolivarian Revolution.

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