Following months of violent clashes, anti-government protests intensified on Sunday as Venezuelans cast ballots in an internationally denounced election ordered by President Nicolás Maduro. Polling stations closed on Sunday evening, and the results could afford Maduro with wide sweeping authority and send the country careening towards dictatorship.
The measure, which critics claim Maduro called in an effort to consolidate his power, would allow the government to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution and institute a new constituent assembly that favors the president. Opposition leaders have boycotted the vote.
As polls opened on Sunday morning, anti-government protesters defied a ban on demonstrations and clashed with police. Several people were killed during the deadly protests, bringing the death toll to 122 since the anti-government protests began in April, according to CBS News. El Nacional reports that 13 people have been killed in the last 24 hours.
Some scenes from today’s protests in the Venezuela’s capital, Caracas:
An opposition youth leader associated with the Acción Democrática party, Ricardo Campos, was shot by police during a protest in Cumana, reports the BBC. Two teenagers were killed in the western state of Tachira. A national guardsman was also killed during protests in Tachira.
Separately, José Felix Pineda, an opposition party candidate, was killed in his home on Saturday evening.
According to CNN, polling stations were guarded by 380,000 troops across the country. While Maduro is expected to prevail, it’s apparent that the election was neither open nor democratic.
On Sunday, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, described the election as a sham and indicated that a fresh round of sanctions against the country would follow if Maduro’s measure passes.