The Latest: Colombia Leader Won't Recognize Venezuela's Vote

By AP

Published July 28th, 2017

The Latest: Colombia Leader Won't Recognize Venezuela's Vote

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The latest on the political crisis in Venezuela (all times local):

7:40 p.m.

Colombia's president says he will not recognize the results of Sunday's election in Venezuela for a special assembly to rewrite the struggling nation's constitution.

President Juan Manuel Santos said Friday that the constituent assembly is of "illegitimate origin" and therefore will not be recognized.

Santos says he will continue advocating for a peaceful resolution to Venezuela's nearly four months of political upheaval that has left at least 113 people dead.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is known to level frequent barbs at his Colombian counterpart, casting him as a slave to imperial foreign rule.

Colombia's finance minister earlier Firday told a local radio station that his nation would sanction the same 13 current and former high-level Venezuelan officials cited by the U.S. government earlier in the week.

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6:40 p.m.

The White House says U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has spoken with Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez about the political unrest wracking the South American nation.

A statement says Pence delivered a message Friday on behalf of President Donald Trump that the United States stands with the Venezuelan people.

It says Pence also repeated Trump's pledge to respond quickly with further economic actions if Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro goes through with elections Sunday to choose a national assembly to rewrite the constitution.

The statement says Pence also praised Lopez for his courage in defending democracy even while under house arrest. The opposition leader was recently free from prison and transferred to house arrest.

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4:05 p.m.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is paying homage to the late Hugo Chavez on what would have been his predecessor's 63rd birthday.

Maduro told supporters Friday that with his push to rewrite the nation's constitution, "Chavez is more alive than ever."

Sunday's election for a constituent assembly to overhaul the country's charter has drawn international outcry and opposition protests.

The constitution would replace the one crafted by Chavez in 1999 in a previous constituent assembly, considered one of his legacies.

Chavez installed the nation's socialist government and died in office in 2013.

Even some longtime government loyalists and Chavez supporters have denounced Maduro's plans.

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3:55 p.m.

So far few demonstrators are heeding opposition calls for a mass protest in Venezuela's capital against President Nicolas Maduro's controversial election Sunday for an assembly to rewrite the constitution.

While some barricades have been set up in opposition-friendly eastern Caracas, the large crowds seen during previous demonstrations that have drawn hundreds of thousands are largely absent.

Interior Minister Nestor Reverol announced Thursday that officials were prohibiting any protests through Tuesday.

Opposition leaders urged Venezuelans to demonstrate anyway in an event they billed as the "taking of Caracas."

Lawmaker Jose Manuel Olivares asked Venezuelans "not to be victims of fear."

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12:45 p.m.

Colombia says it will grant temporary legal status to more than 150,000 Venezuelans who have overstayed visas due to the deteriorating political and economic crisis in their home country.

Colombia Migration Director Christian Kruger said Friday the status will be good for up to two years and let recipients work and receive social security benefits.

Venezuelans must have entered Colombia legally on or before July 25 to qualify.

In recent years Colombia has received hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan migrants, many of whom have Colombian roots.

The migrants are fleeing triple-digit inflation, food and medical shortages and a homicide rate that is among the world's highest. In recent months more than 100 people have died in civil unrest in Venezuela.

The new legal status does not provide aid to the thousands who entered illegally.

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11:30 a.m.

Venezuela's chief prosecutor is reporting at least 114 deaths in nearly four months of protests against President Nicolas Maduro's government.

Late Thursday the prosecutor's office released a list of 109 dead from violence related to demonstrations and street blockades across the country.

The office later reported at least five more deaths via Twitter, including a police officer slain Thursday afternoon in the town of Ejido, Merida state. The western state has been the scene of violent clashes between protesters and police.

The toll is expected to climb as authorities enforce a ban on protests ahead of a polarizing vote Sunday to begin the rewriting of Venezuela's constitution. Protesters say the election of a constitutional assembly will allow Maduro to eliminate democratic checks and balances and install an authoritarian single-party system.

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