The Latest: Venezuelan opposition turns out voters in US

The Latest on Venezuela’s political crisis and an opposition referendum on government plans to rewrite the constitution. (all times local):

2 p.m.

Venezuelan citizens are voting at polling places in Boston, Worcester and hundreds of other sites in the U.S., joining their countrymen at home in a symbolic rejection of the Venezuelan government’s plan to rewrite the constitution.

Boston resident Ana Julia Jatar says Venezuelans are voting because they want elections. She says they “want to go back to a Democratic system in which we can vote and elect those who we think would manage the country best for us and our children.”

She’s the sister of journalist Braulio Jatar, who was detained on money laundering charges after publicizing a protest against President Nicolas Maduro.

Supporters of the referendum hope to win enough turnout to undermine the validity of President Nicolas Maduro’s constitutional assembly. The opposition says that plan is structured to pack the constitutional assembly with government supporters and allow Maduro to eliminate the few remaining checks on his power.

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12:45 p.m.

Organizers say more than 10,000 Venezuelans have voted in Spain’s capital in an opposition-sponsored referendum to reject President Nicolas Maduro’s plan to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution.

Polls will remain open in Madrid and 78 other cities and towns in Spain until 8 p.m. local time for Venezuelans residing in the European country.

The Democratic Unity opposition coalition has called for voters both in and outside Venezuela to participate in the symbolic referendum two weeks before the government holds elections for a constitutional assembly.

Among those who have voted in Madrid are former Democratic Unity general secretary Chuo Torrealba, singer Carlos Baute and writer Boris Izaguirre.

According to Spain’s national statistics institute, over 60,000 Venezuelans resided in Spain in 2016.

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10:50 a.m.

Thousands of Venezuelans have lined up across the country to vote in an opposition-sponsored referendum meant to reject President Nicolas Maduro’s plan to rewrite the constitution.

The success of the symbolic referendum will be measured by how many millions participate. The Democratic Unity opposition coalition has printed 14 million ballots for voters inside and outside the country of 31 million people.

Few expect turnout that high but analysts say participation by more than 8 million people would significantly hike pressure on the government two weeks before it holds elections for a constitutional assembly.

Polls show the socialist government would likely lose a presidential election under the current constitution, and it says it wants a rewrite that would advance its revolutionary system.

Source: Fox News

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