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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro are calling for continued protests ahead of Sunday’s controversial election.

There are fears that the results of the election could give Maduro sweeping new powers.

The controversial election of a national assembly that rewrite the constitution at Maduro’s request, a move that the leftist leader’s critics say could consolidate his power and lead to a dictatorship.

“One particular thing that makes this act unlawful is that they never consulted with the people, if the people want to change the constitution,” said Florida voter Di Giovanni. “This was a typical step in the constitution of Venezuela. This was the same step that was taken in the last referendum to change the constitution.”

Here in South Florida hundreds turned out last week for a symbolic vote to make sure their voice was heard in Venezuela.

“It’s been 20 years already and we haven’t had the freedom, so that’s what I’m here for, voting for my country,” said Viviana Salazar.

“I’m tired of hearing stories of my friends and family getting hurt,” added Santiago Mata. “Things that they can’t find what they need in the supermarket, the fact that there’s no medicine for the old people that are sick in the hospital, the fact that everybody’s out there fighting the national government that’s being oppressive because we can’t be free.

The election comes after months of sometimes deadly protests as an economic crisis has led many to flee the country in search of easier access to food and medicine, some fearing to be held as political prisoner.

Maduro’s regime has forbidden protests through Tuesday, saying violators will face prison terms of five to 10 years.

The regime says it has dispatched more than 370,000 troops across the country to secure Sunday’s vote.


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