The backstory to this is that Maduro will soon be holding a referendum to change Venezuela’s constitution and shut the opposition out of the process, as his popularity has crashed to the point where he will not survive except by cancelling elections. The opposition, in response, decided to hold a little referendum of their own:
More than 7 million Venezuelans voted in Sunday’s unofficial referendum held by the opposition to heap pressure on President Nicolas Maduro and repudiate his plan to rewrite the OPEC nation’s constitution, monitors said.
The symbolic plebiscite was aimed at denting Maduro’s legitimacy further amid a crippling economic crisis that has left millions struggling to eat and months of anti-government unrest that has killed nearly 100 people.
Opposition leaders hailed it as a success, while also mourning the death of one woman killed by gunmen in Caracas during the voting.
“Today, July 16, dignity won and tyranny lost,” said opposition leader Maria Corina Machado. “We have given an indisputable mandate for a new Venezuela starting tomorrow.”
Maduro, 54, dismissed Sunday’s poll as unconstitutional and is campaigning instead for a July 30 vote to create a legislative superbody that would have the power to rewrite the constitution and dissolve state institutions.
Voters were asked three questions at Sunday’s event and an overwhelming 98 percent chose to reject the proposed new assembly, urge the military to defend the existing constitution, and support elections before Maduro’s term ends in early 2019, according to academics monitoring the vote for the opposition.
Normally, I’d be suspicious of a 98% number, but these were mostly opposition supporters having their say. Not to mention, Maduro is literally starving the country to death; I have to think even a lot of the socialists in Venezuela have figured out by now he has to go.