The Latest: Venezuelans line up to vote for new assembly

CARACAS, Venezuela

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The Latest on Venezuela’s political crisis and the vote for a constitutional assembly (all times local):

9 a.m.

Dozens of Venezuelans are gathering early at voting centers in Caracas’ Petare neighborhood, saying they plan to cast ballots because they hope for improvements in their lives.

Hairdresser Luisa Marquez said she hoped to get a house as she waited with her daughter in a line outside a center waiting to vote Sunday for an all-powerful constitutional assembly that Maduro’s opponents fear he’ll use to replace Venezuela’s democracy with a single-party authoritarian system.

“I hope things get better,” said Marquez after acknowledging that Venezuelans are experiencing tough economic times.

The run-up to the vote has been marked by months of clashes between protesters and the government, and the Trump administration has imposed successive rounds of sanctions on high-ranking members of Maduro’s administration, with the support of countries including Mexico, Colombia and Panama.

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7:50 a.m.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is asking for global acceptance as he casts an unusual pre-dawn vote for an all-powerful constitutional assembly that his opponents fear he’ll use to replace the country’s democracy with a single-party authoritarian system.

Accompanied by close advisers and state media, Maduro voted at 6:05 a.m. local time, far earlier and less publicly than in previous elections. The run-up to Sunday’s vote has been marked by months of clashes between protesters and the government, including the fatal shooting of a 61-year-old nurse by men accused of being pro-government paramilitaries during a protest this month at a church a few hundred feet from the school where Maduro voted.

“We’ve stoically withstood the terrorist, criminal violence,” Maduro said. “Hopefully the world will respectfully extend its arms toward our country.”

Categories: International News