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Venezuela opposition says over 7 million voted, rejected President Maduros plans

CARACAS, VENEZUELA—Foes of President Nicolas Maduro said more than 7 million Venezuelans cast symbolic votes rejecting his plan to retool the constitution in a strong but not overwhelming showing that left the opposition facing tough choices two weeks before the socialist leader seeks to reshape the political system.The vote was marred by violence when a 61-year-old woman was killed and four people wounded by gunfire after government supporters on motorcycles swarmed an opposition polling site in a church in western Caracas.Analysts said the 7,186,170 ballots the opposition says were cast across Venezuela and around the world on Sunday was an impressive show of support. However, it fell short of the opposition’s 7.7 million-vote showing in 2015 legislative elections and the 7.5 million votes that brought Maduro to power in 2013. Opposition leaders said that was because it was only able to set up 2,000 polling places in a symbolic exercise the government labelled as illegitimate.Still, some supporters said they were disappointed.“I thought it was going to be more,” said Mariela Arana, a 56-year-old school counsellor. “But these seven million people spoke and it was plenty.”Article Continued BelowDavid Smilde, a Tulane University expert on Venezuela, said the result would likely rally the international community even more strongly against the July 30 vote Maduro has called to elect members of the assembly that will rewrite Venezuela’s 1999 constitution. The opposition says that vote has been structured to pack the constitutional assembly with government supporters and allow Maduro to eliminate the few remaining checks on his power, creating a Cuba-style system dominated by his socialist party.Julio Borges, centre, leader of the opposition-controlled parliament, speaks following an opposition-organized vote to measure public support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's plan to rewrite the constitution, in Caracas, Venezuela on Monday.  (RONALDO SCHEMIDT / AFP/GETTY IMAGES)  Thousands of Venezuelan nationals head to the polls to vote at Miami-Dade College West Campus in Doral. More than 7 million Venezuelans casted symbolic votes rejecting Maduro's plan to retool the constitution.  (Carl Juste/Miami Herald)  Inside Venezuela, Smilde said leaders of the 20-odd groups in the Democratic Unity opposition coalition were now faced with choosing between tactics ranging from calling a general strike to forming a parallel government to simply working to rally international condemnation of Maduro’s plans.“Overall, this vote, I think, makes it difficult for the government to just proceed as planned,” Smilde said. “I think it’s going to embolden the international community to reject it.”

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