Spotlight: Venezuela defies U.S. pressure, vows to push forward constitutional initiative

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-19 15:09:05|Editor: ying
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CARACAS, July 18 (Xinhua) -- The Venezuelan government, which has been in a political standoff with the opposition for months, said Tuesday it has rejected U.S. pressure to cancel a constitutional initiative or face additional "economic sanctions."

"Obviously, the U.S. government is used to humiliating other nations through its international relations and thinks it is going to get the subordination it is accustomed to," the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has called for a National Constituent Assembly (ANC) to review and possibly rewrite the constitution, in a bid to overcome the political crisis that has paralyzed the country.

Venezuelans are expected to go to the polls to elect the 545 members of the ANC on July 30.

The conservative opposition, which has the support of the U.S. government, opposes the initiative, having organized an informal poll on Sunday to gauge support for the measure.

The next day, a White House statement from President Donald Trump warned that if the Maduro government "imposes its Constituent Assembly on July 30, the United States will take strong and swift economic actions."

The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry noted "it is not the first time we have denounced and confronted crazy threats such as those contained in this unusual document," and vowed to hold the vote as planned, despite this latest "brutal threat."

Slamming the indirect voting system of the United States as filtering citizens' votes through the so-called electoral college, the ministry highlighted that the constituent assembly "will be elected by the direct vote ... of all Venezuelans."

In the political crisis resulting from the months-long standoff between the Venezuelan government and the opposition, the U.S. administration has scaled up pressures against the former.

Trump on Monday threatened to "take strong and swift economic actions" against the Venezuelan government, which it considers to be unruly to the United States.

Meanwhile, Venezuela's opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) sees the planned establishment of the ANC as consolidation of power by Maduro.

Also on Sunday, the government held a simulation of the July 30 vote to elect the ANC, while the opposition organized the unofficial referendum of its own.

The opposition MUD announced on Monday that it was the "zero hour" for the government of Maduro.

The anti-government protests organized by the opposition in the country have killed more than 90 people since early April, according to reports.