Man slain at protest in western Venezuela

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The latest on Venezuela, where a two-day national strike has been called beginning Wednesday to protest President Nicolas Maduro’s plans to rewrite the country’s constitution (all times local):

3:50 p.m.

Venezuela’s chief prosecutor says a 30-year-old man has been killed in a protest in a western town, pushing the official toll to least 98 dead in nearly four months of unrest.

The prosecutor’s office says Rafael Antonio Vergara was slain in the town of Ejido, outside the city of Merida, without offering further details.

The killing Wednesday came on the first of a two-day general strike called by opponents of President Nicolas Maduro. They are against his attempt to rewrite the constitution through a constituent assembly whose members are set to be chosen Sunday in an election.

The president argues that a new constitution will offer the South American nation a way out of its deep political and economic crisis. His opponents see it as a maneuver to further consolidate his already considerable executive power, and they are boycotting the vote.


1:50 p.m.

The Trump administration has hit Venezuela with new sanctions targeting 13 current or former top officials in President Nicolas Maduro’s government.

It is also threatening more penalties if he goes through with a controversial plan to rewrite the beleaguered country’s constitution, with an election scheduled Sunday to elect delegates to a special assembly charged with drafting a new charter.

The sanctions target senior Venezuelan officials that the U.S. says are promoting that vote or undermining democracy, along with five others implicated in violence or repression amid the country’s political crisis.

They freeze any assets the individuals have in the United States and bar Americans from doing business with them.

Among those hit by the sanctions announced Wednesday are Tibisay Lucena Ramirez, the president of the National Electoral Council and president of Venezuela’s National Board of…

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