So How Many Did Vote in Venezuela's Opposition Plebiscite?

A teleSUR investigation shows how one person could vote three times.

There's no doubt there was a significant turnout for the Venezuelan opposition's informal plebiscite Sunday, which the electoral authorities classified as a political gesture with no constitutional status.

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The opposition said 7,186,170 people voted to reject the Venezuelan government's plan to elect a new Constituent Assembly — that includes 6,492,381 inside Venezuela and 693,789 at voting stations set up for Venezuelans in other countries.

But even if these numbers are accurate — which can't be verified — an estimated 7.2 million votes out of an eligible voting population of just under 20 million is no mandate and even falls short of the 7.7 million the opposition garnered in the 2015 national assembly elections.

But since this was an informal vote, with no register of eligible electors and only a rudimentary record of who voted and where these numbers are almost impossible to verify. At the end of the day, at least some of the opposition voting centers burned their ballot boxes, making any subsequent investigation equally impossible.

However, teleSUR journalists were able to carry out a simple test that suggested the real number of voters was probably less.

They accompanied a citizen who was registered to vote in the Valles del Tuy — a poor suburb on the outskirts of the capital — to the upscale opposition stronghold of eastern Caracas and recorded how he was able to vote multiple times with no problem.

First, they went to a voting station next to the Unicentro El Marques shopping mall. Here are the pictures of him voting.

The organizers asked to see his identity card but did not check it against any list of eligible voters in that district. They just noted his name on a list, along with his ID number, his signature and their own stamp. Then they gave him a voting slip and invited him to fill it in, in front of them, and then put it in the ballot box. Not exactly a secret ballot. And the voting slip had no unique identification to ensure it couldn't be duplicated. After he'd finished, they gave him a receipt to show he had voted.

Then the teleSUR team went with him to another polling station at Romulo Gallegos Avenue in front of Miranda park. The same voter went through the same process and put his voting slip in the box.

The final stop was a voting station outside the Chacaito metro station. The only difference here was that after he voted he was not given a receipt of voting.

The whole process took just an hour.

So the obvious question is, how many others might have voted three times? Or even more times?

There is a video of the citizen casting his second and third votes.

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US Black Group Lauds Caricom's Stance on Venezuela

The IBW urged Caricom nations to resist pressure from Washington and the OAS, and continue to stand firm in their principled position concerning Venezuela.

On Saturday, New York-based Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW) said it was “very concerned about reports of racist violence by right-wing, anti-Government forces targeting members of the Afro-Venezuelan community.”

RELATED: Morales Slams Supporters of Venezuela's Opposition Plebiscite

IBW called on the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus to investigate these reports and to support the Caribbean Community's (Caricom) position by demanding that U.S. President Donald Trump's Administration “cease and desist interfering in Venezuela's domestic affairs, and in undermining its national sovereignty.”

The group also condemned recent efforts by the Organization of American States' (OAS) Secretary General Luis Almagro and a “small group of powerful states in the OAS who are relentlessly attacking the Venezuelan Government, openly supporting the Opposition forces, and are attempting to divide and weaken the solidarity of the 15 Caricom member states of the OAS on their stance towards the crisis in Venezuela.”

IBW lauded the prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, for upholding “Article 15 of the OAS Charter, which says that 'no state, or group of states, has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other state.'”

The OAS Charter says “this principle prohibits not only armed force but also any other form of interference or attempted threat against the personality of the State or against its political, economic, and cultural elements.”

The Institute of the Black World 21st Century urged all Caricom countries to “resist pressure from Washington and from the OAS, and continue to stand firm in their united and principled position concerning the crisis in Venezuela.”

In a statement from the conclusion of recently concluded 38th Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of Caricom, held in Grenada earlier this month, Caricom leaders “reaffirmed their guiding principles of adherence to the rule of law, respect for human rights and democracy, as well as for the fundamental principles of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of states.”

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Cuba Defends Lula, Maduro at Sao Paulo Forum in Nicaragua

The 23rd Sao Paulo Forum meets in Managua this week to advance the unity of Latin America's left in the face of renewed attacks by global capitalism.

The Cuban delegation at the 23rd Sao Paulo Forum reaffirmed their support for Venezuelan President Maduro and former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva Sunday, claiming both leaders were victims of an “imperialist offensive."

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In an interview with Prensa Latina, Jorge Arias, deputy head of the Department of International Relations of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, emphasized the Cuban delegation's solidarity with Lula and Venezuela's Bolivarian process.

Arias argued the attacks against Maduro's government and the recent ruling against Lula were part of an “imperialist offensive” waged by the oligarchic right to besiege the region and reverse the gains made by the left during the past two decades.

Arias' comments come just days after former Lula's politicized conviction on corruption charges and in the midst of continuous attempts to derail the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, which faces a crucial democratic test later this month as representatives are elected to the country's National Constituent Assembly.

The Cuban delegation was joined by delegates representing social movements, popular bases and leftist parties across Latin America and the Caribbean at the 23rd Sao Paulo Forum, convened Sunday in Nicaragua's capital Managua.

The objective of the three-day conference is to further advance the regional, ideological and practical unity of the continent's left in its fight to consolidate its national liberation goals in the face of a renewed offensive by global capitalism against the peoples of the region.

Upon arriving in Managua Saturday, Puerto Rican independence leader and recently-released political prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera stressed the importance the forum in remarks to reporters.

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"My freedom was achieved due to the solidarity of people like (those in) Nicaragua, who love freedom and justice," said Lopez Rivera, who was released in May after spending 36 years in prison for his fight to liberate Puerto Rico from U.S. colonialism.

The forum will also officially adopt the Consensus for Our America, a 24-page document dedicated to late Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro that lays out the principles, purpose, objectives and priorities of the forum's participants. The forum's participants hope that the text, drafted collectively in past work sessions, will serve as a key programmatic document for progressive forces in not only Latin America, but the entire globe.

“The accumulation of capital is leading to the concentration and centralization of it (through) neoliberal policies focused on privatization and private appropriation of state enterprises, as well as the use of public funds to socialize the losses of private enterprises,” the document points out, adding that global capitalism seeks to eliminate any progressive or leftist presence from the world's social, institutional and political spaces.

Founded by the Worker's Party of Brazil in 1990, the Sao Paulo Forum was established in a bid to unify the efforts of the world's major leftist forces in the wake of Soviet socialism's collapse and the advance of neoliberalism, which stripped workers and poor people of hard-fought gains while privatizing previously off-limits sectors of national economies and the global commons alike.

The forum will entail various working groups and plenaries before ending Tuesday, a night prior to Wednesday's celebration marking 38 years since the triumph of the Sandinista Revolution. The revolution deposed U.S.-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza and brought the Sandinista Liberation Front to power, ushering in a period of sustained economic progress, poverty reduction, peace and stability in the Central American nation.

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Countries Around the World Condemn Attack in Venezuela

Widespread support resounded from 17 African countries, as well as Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Cuba, Palestine, and Turkey after the attacks.

In the aftermath of the helicopter attack against the Venezuelan Supreme Court, countries around the world have expressed their solidarity with Venezuela by condemning the acts that the Bolivarian government has described as “terrorist.”

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The countries include Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Cuba, Palestine, Turkey, as well as widespread support from Africa where 17 countries have condemned the attacks.

The Bolivian government issued a communication insisting on the importance of peace and dialogue between Venezuela's internal political forces, and called for the preservation of stability.

The Ecuadorean government released a communication calling for “unrestricted respect for the democratic order of states, the peaceful resolution of conflicts, non-interference in a coutnry's internal affairs, and the rejection of attempts toward destabilization.

Guatemala also condemned the attacks and called for sincere political dialogue in Venezuela.

A former police official stole a helicopter on Tuesday afternoon, from the Generalisimo Francisco de Miranda airbase in the Venezuelan capital, and proceeded to fly over over and attack the Supreme Court of Justice and Interior Ministry buildings with grenades. Nobody was injured in the attack.

The Venezuelan Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada described the attack as an “act of terrorism,” and has thanked the countries who have condemned the attack for their displays of solidarity.

Moncada denounced the complicity of those countries and international organizations such as the OAS who have failed to condemn the attacks after months of international attempts to interfere in Venezuela's internal affairs.

In the day following the attacks, the United States has not condemned the attacks. Rather U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley called for increased “pressure” on Venezuelan President Maduro while speaking to the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee.

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Cuba condemns terrorist attacks in Caracas

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba issued a statement regarding recent events in the Venezuelan capital.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba strongly condemns the terrorist attacks in Caracas against the Supreme Court of Justice and the Ministry of Popular Power for Internal Affairs, Justice and Peace.

It is unjustifiable that certain governments and political figures, instead of expressing resolute and direct opposition to these terrorist and coup-mongering acts, present them as a supposed police rebellion, and manipulate them to incite the rupture of the civic-military union, and to attack the dignified decision of President Nicolás Manduro Moros to prevent chaos and call for the legitimate defense of constitutional order.

It is not surprising that the Organization of American States (OAS) and its secretary general have become, through their silence, accomplices of what happened and what may happen.

Cuba resolutely rejects the use of terrorism and foreign interference in Venezuela, while reiterating its firmest solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution and its leaders. Nothing and no one will prevent the brave people of Bolívar and Chávez from fighting with determination to defend their ideas and achievements, and restore the peace that others have broken.

Havana, June 28, 2017

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Venezuela Omdusman Slams 'Dangerous' Rise in Politically Motivated Hate Crimes

At least 86 people have died since opposition-led protests aimed at toppling the government began.

Venezuela’s ombudsman, Tarek William Saab, denounced on Sunday the rise in far-right hate crimes as the opposition calls for an escalation of protests against the government that have claimed the lives of over 80 people.

RELATED: Venezuelan Youth Burned for 'Being Chavista' Dies from Injuries

"Hate crimes, like lynchings, motivated by political reasons advance dangerously and with impunity in the country," Saab said.

He published a series of videos showing how a group of people protesting in the Tamanaco Commercial Center, CCCT in the capital city of Caracas tried to attack a woman and chased her down the mall. She was mistaken for Marlene de Andrade, the wife of Winston Vallenilla, the president of the state-run television station, TVes.

"We are struggling to change a country, where there is tolerance and all of us who think differently can live and facts like these do much harm. The lady here is a worker who was just doing an errand and she did not deserve this aggression," an unknown person is heard saying next to the woman in another video, in what appears to be bathroom inside the mall.

"What would have happened if the mob that chased this lady in the CCCT had managed to lynch her? Applauding this is condemnable," said Saab on Twitter.

At least 86 people have died since opposition-led protests aimed at toppling the government began, despite calls by President Nicolas Maduro for dialogue with opposition sectors. On May 1, President Maduro invoked the legal mechanism allowing him to call for a Constituent Assembly as a means to quell the unrest through a process that would include citizens in the writing of a new constitution for the South American nation. 

In addition to those killed, over 1,200 have been injured in the protests.

RELATED: Opposition Violence Suspected Behind Killing of Venezuelan Judge

Saab also accused the country's right-wing opposition of being behind recent attacks and threats against his family last week. He said some 30 people carrying flags of the opposition party Justice First attacked his family and threatened to burn their house down.

"Seeking aggression with intentions to injure or kill a human being because of their ideological stance is disgusting," Saab wrote on his Twitter account. "The justice system has can stop this despicable phenomenon that if it were to continue with impunity, would be the prologue of a civil war."

Saad denounced last week that opposition sectors have attacked eight of the headquarters of the Ombudsman's Office across the country, including an incident on Saturday when a "group of hooded men sprayed gasoline" at the headquarters in the city of San Cristobal "and attacked it with blunt objects."

Among the most shocking case of hate crime was the lynching of Orlando Figuera, who was burned alive on May 20 in affluent Caracas neighborhood of Altamira, reportedly because opposition protesters suspected that the 21-year-old Black man was a government supporter.

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Venezuela Top Court Confirms Constituent Assembly Will Go Ahead

Venezuela's electoral authority has signaled that elections to select the National Constituent Assembly representatives will take place July 30.

Venezuela’s top court rejected Monday an appeal filed by the country’s attorney general, confirming that the National Constituent Assembly called by President Nicolas Maduro to rewrite the Constitution will continue as planned.

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"The Electoral Chamber declared inadmissable the legal action exercised by the Attorney General of the Republic for inept accumulation of claims," Venezuela's Supreme Court announced on its Twitter account to 81,400 followers. 

Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz filed an appeal Thursday to the Supreme Court calling on justices to halt the National Constituent Assembly, deepening tensions between her office and the Maduro government. 

Together with her appeal, Ortega Diaz urged Venezuelans to reject the constituent assembly process, arguing that it went against the legacy of late President Hugo Chavez, who oversaw the creation of the counry's current 1999 Constitution, regarded as one of the most progressive constitutions in the world. 

Members of Maduro's PSUV party have accused Ortega Diaz, long considered an ally of the socialist government, of acting with bias. 

Maduro called the National Constituent Assembly last month in a move to promote dialogue amid an ongoing wave of opposition protests that have increasingly turned violent. The announcement has further ignited flared tensions, as opposition leaders have refused to back the process. 

The National Constituent Assembly's 545 members, including regional and sectoral representatives, are set to be elected on July 30. Maduro has vowed that the new Constitution resulting form the constituent assembly process will be approved in a referendum. 

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