A 61-year-old nurse was shot dead in an attack on a Caracas polling station on Sunday, as voters queued for an unofficial referendum hailed by Venezuela’s opposition as a major strike against embattled president Nicolas Maduro.
The woman, Xiomara Escot, was killed when a pro-government armed group opened fire at the El Carmen Church polling station in Catia, an impoverished neighbourhood of the capital that was once a stronghold of the Chavista government.
There, as across Venezuela, voters overwhelmingly backed proposals to halt Mr Maduro’s formation of a people’s assembly, to hold fresh elections and demand the armed forces uphold the decisions of the opposition-controlled parliament.
Ninety-eight percent voted in favour across all three questions, with more than seven million people casting ballots inside Venezuela and abroad. However the vote, dismissed by Mr Maduro as illegal, was largely boycotted by government supporters.
Julio Borges, president of the National Assembly, nevertheless hailed it as a mandate for change.
“The people came out on a massive scale to give us a mandate that we are going to fulfill and ensure is fulfilled. It is up to us to make the government understand the message of today,” he said.