Monday, Jul. 17, 2017

The Latest: Brazil backs Venezuela opposition vote

By The Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The Latest on Venezuela's political confrontation (all times local):

3:20 p.m.

The Brazilian government says an opposition-organized referendum in Venezuela is "unequivocal proof" that the people there want to see the restoration of the democratic rule of law.

A statement Monday from Brazil's Foreign Ministry calls on Venezuelan authorities to cancel plans to form an assembly to rewrite the constitution, saying its rules violate popular sovereignty.

The Venezuelan opposition says 7,186,170 people participated in Sunday's referendum to reject President Nicolas Maduro's plans for the July 30 election of an assembly.

Brazil's statement urges quick restoration of the powers of the congress and the release of all political prisoners.

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3 p.m.

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox says he welcomes the decision by Venezuela's socialist government to bar him from the country.

In his words: "I am very honored at this recognition from this dictatorial government."

Venezuela's Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada said on Twitter that he is declaring Fox persona non grata for conspiring to promote violence foreign intervention. Moncada offered no evidence to support his accusations.

Fox was in Venezuela Saturday with other Latin American former presidents to witness an opposition referendum against the government's plan to rewrite the country's constitution. Fox told The Associated Press Monday the trip was aimed at guaranteeing the transparency of the referendum.

Fox said he left Venezuela as planned Monday and hadn't been personally notified of any action by the Venezuelan government. Fox said he would continue to work for a democratic transition in the South American country.

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2:15 p.m.

Venezuelan opposition leaders are calling for a 24-hour national strike starting Thursday to protest government plans to rewrite the constitution and consolidate political power.

The opposition-controlled National Assembly also says it will name new members of the country's supreme court, a move certain to be blocked by President Nicolas Maduro's administration. The court is controlled by loyalists of Maduro's ruling socialist party.

The opposition is calling on the government to call off the July 30 election of members of a constitutional assembly that would remake the country's political system.

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11:55 a.m.

Venezuelan opposition leaders are calling on supporters to escalate street protests after more than 7 million people rejected a government plan to rewrite the constitution and consolidate its power.

The opposition said 7,186,170 Venezuelans participated in a symbolic referendum rejecting President Nicolas Maduro's plans for the July 30 election of an assembly that would remake the political system.

A coalition of some 20 opposition parties planned to formally call Monday for the launch of what it called the "zero hour" campaign of civil disobedience in the two weeks leading to the government vote. More than 100 days of opposition protests have left at least 93 people dead and 1,500 wounded.

National Assembly President Julio Borges told local radio station that the opposition has to "escalate and deepen this street movement."

2017-07-17 19:25:40 GMT

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