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The latest: Venezuela takes a positive turn to Sunday’s elections



CARACAS, Venezuela – The last presidential election on Sunday in Venezuela (all locals):

9:40 pm

The Venezuelan army is giving a positive reading to the Sunday presidential election, praising the voters for going to the polls in peace and exercising their civic duty.

Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López made the remarks before the results of the elections were announced, in which socialist President Nicolás Maduro seeks a second term of six years.

Dressed in a green uniform and flanked by the military high command, General Padrino López said that "Venezuela has won again, peace has won again, our democracy has won again".

The Venezuelan military has historically been the arbiter of political disputes, and as an OPEC member nation has fallen deeper into the economic crisis, many in the opposition, as well as the Trump administration have turned to the armed forces to intervene.

On Sunday, the main opposition coalition called for the military to avoid what it called a mass "farce" by Maduro to stay in power despite the widespread absenteeism of voters.

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9:15 pm

The Venezuelan opposition coalition says President Nicolás Maduro is trying to inflate his vote count by keeping the polls open hours after the official close to hide what he calls a "farce" "Mass absenteeism election in the presidential elections on Sunday.

Speaking on behalf of the recently created broad-based coalition, opposition legislator Juan Pablo Guanipa says that "today was not an electoral process where people could vote freely.

Guanipa says the elections" were a farce a dictator who wants to stay in power without popular support. "

Some polling stations have been kept open well past the 6 pm scheduled closing time and the electoral authorities have not yet issued any voting results. polling stations around Venezuela seemed almost empty on Sunday as voters suffering from food shortages and hyperinflation called for a boycott of the race as rigged.

Internal opposition estimates based on a quick vote count on a sample of polling stations Associated Press placed around 40 percent, if confirmed, it would be the lowest since the restoration democracy in 1958 after the dismissal of military dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez.

Guanipa called for new elections in which all candidates, including those excluded by the Maduro government in Sunday's race, allowed to compete.

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7:40 pm

The polling stations remain open late into the night in Venezuela, despite low participation throughout the day in the presidential elections.

The National Electoral Council has not announced the closure of the polling stations more than an hour after they should have closed.

The socialist president, Nicolás Maduro, is seeking a second term of 6 years in the midst of a crushing economic crisis. He faces a handful of rivals, including Henri Falcon, a former socialist party supporter and former governor who ran as an independent candidate.

By law, polling stations in Venezuela must close at 6 pm, unless voters are still waiting to issue ballots. The opening at 6 a. M.

The Falcon campaign asked the electoral witnesses to remain alert and to record any irregularities they see.

It is not clear when the results of the elections will be available.

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4:40 pm

Small groups of Venezuelan exiles hold demonstrations in cities around the world to protest the presidential elections in their country, which they say is a sham.

Demonstrators in cities such as Miami, Bogota, Lima and Paris displayed banners that read "murderer of Maduro" and "Fraude" while waving Venezuelan flags.

Most of the protests on Sunday had only a few dozen participants.

Protester Paulina Facchin in the Peruvian capital said that Venezuelans should not vote in an election for which the authorities have "The winner has already been determined."

Opposition leaders have repeatedly tried to revive the anti-government protests that brought thousands to the streets in Venezuela last year but attracted small crowds. [19] 659031] Outside the country, many Venezuelans have resigned themselves to building new lives abroad.

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4 pm

President Nicolás Maduro calls on Venezuelans to vote in the last hours of election day as several polls remain almost empty.

In a television broadcast on Sunday, Maduro reminded Venezuelans that there was still time to vote and asked them to "encourage" those who had not yet voted.

He said that voting is necessary to ensure peace and democracy in the nation.

Opposition leaders have been pressuring Venezuelans to abstain from voting in elections they consider unfair and probably rigged in favor of Maduro.

Many Venezuelans seem to pay attention to that call. There were few voters online at several polling stations around the capital.

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3:30 pm

The head of the progovernment electoral council of Venezuela says that officials are making "corrections" when necessary after complaints that socialist supporters are participating in political proselytizing near voting sites.

The president of the National Electoral Council Tibisay Lucena said on Sunday that some complaints about "political centers" had been determined and the errors corrected.

Lucena did not address details about the complaints, but said that in general they were "nothing compared to previous electoral processes."

Opposition leaders say that socialist supporters are violating Venezuelan electoral law by installing stores less than 200 meters from the polling stations.

Voters say they hope to get a free cash bonus or even a free apartment by scanning their "Homeland Card" issued by the government in stores. [19659046] The opposition maintains that such movements are a way of extorting Venezuelans to vote for President Nicolás Maduro.

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2:26 pm

Voters in an opposition stronghold of the Venezuelan capital are sending a resounding message to the former Prime Minister of Spain: out.

Venezuelans who were lined up to vote on Sunday interrupted José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero as he left a polling place in Chacao's upper class district.

Zapatero is in Venezuela to observe the elections and Rejection of the rights activists after declaring that the voters "will vote freely"

The elections in Venezuela have provoked the international condemnation of the foreign governments that say that they are favor of the ruling party.

A woman outside the voting site of Chacao told the local television station that if Zapatero likes communism, he should "go and install it in Spain."

Zapatero has been involved in recent failed attempts to mediate an agreement between Ven Ezuela's socialist government and the opposition.

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1:01 pm

The two main contenders of President Nicolás Maduro appeal to the electoral authorities to prevent the ruling party's activists from pressuring poor voters to cast their votes. .

Henri Falcon and Javier Bertucci said they had received more than 300 complaints about the existence of so-called "red dots" a few steps away and even inside polling stations.

The Venezuelan electoral law requires that political proselytism be carried out at least 200 meters from the polling stations.

Many of the voters said they expected their loyalty to the revolution in the midst of an unprecedented economic crisis to be rewarded with a cash bonus or even a new apartment.

"This is not a democratic act," said Bertucci, a television evangelist, after casting his vote in the city of Valencia.

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10:43 a.m.

The spokeswoman for the State Department of the United States has called the Venezuelan elections illegitimate.

In a Twitter post, Heather Nauert also said that the United States supports "free and fair elections."

"The so-called Venezuelan elections of today are not legitimate, the United States supports the democratic nations throughout the world in support of the Venezuelan people and their sovereign right to elect their representatives through free and fair elections," he wrote.

Sunday's elections have received widespread criticism from some of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. the most popular rivals were forbidden to run, and several more were forced into exile.

Echoing the opinions of the ragged Venezuelan opposition movement, the United States, the European Union and many Latin American countries have already said that they will not recognize the results.

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9:22 a.m.

The leafy streets of the opposition stronghold in eastern Caracas were largely empty on Sunday, but voters in other parts of the city went to the polls.

Near Petare, Caracas & # 39; Most of the revolutionary music of festivals and slums was represented when a few dozen voters remained on a long list to show their so-called "homeland cards" to the volunteers of the Socialist Party.

A A woman dressed in a sports ministry jacket with the red, yellow and blue colors of the Venezuelan flag scanned each card with her phone, a way to verify that the cardholders have fulfilled their patriotic duty. vote, presumably for President Nicolás Maduro.

The so-called "red spots", many within walking distance of the polling stations, are an integral part of the government's voting machinery.

"If the opposition wants to do the same, they are free to do so," said Rigoberto Barazarte, the owner of a small car-wash business that wants to see a re-elected Maduro harden his stance against the elites that he says are trying to sabotage Venezuela's economy.

The opposition considers it a pressure tactic, equivalent to using food as a form of political coercion. Since 2017, the government has issued 16.5 million national cards, which are used to access social programs and benefits.

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8:09 am

Pope Francis prays that the Venezuelan "beloved" people and the rulers will wisely choose peace and unity when the nation chooses a new president.

Francis, addressing the faithful in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, asked that the "Holy Spirit give to all the Venezuelan people, to all, leaders, people, the wisdom to find the path of peace and unity".

He also prayed for the inmates who died last Saturday. Human rights defenders say that 11 people were killed in the prison riots in Venezuela caused by prisoners who fought with a jailer's firearm.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is expected to win a second term in the elections, despite food shortages and rising inflation. Its main rivals are boycotting due to the distrust of the electoral council, which is controlled by government supporters.

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7 am

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro cast his ballot in Caracas shortly after fireworks and the anthem woke Venezuelans from his dream around 5 am local time.

He said that Venezuelans would provide an example of democracy to the world and rejected suggestions that he was leading the country down an authoritarian path.

"It is offensive when they say Venezuelans are falling under the dictatorship," he said after voting, adding that if he won the elections he would seek an understanding with his opponents about the way forward for the country affected by the crisis. "I will insist obstinately and obsessively on the dialogue for peace"

Maduro is expected to win a second six-year term in Sunday's election, despite an increasingly profound crisis that has made food and food scarce inflation once the rich nation collapses.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material can not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed.

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