US Orders Diplomats' Families to Leave Caracas
Violence expected ahead of key vote
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 28, 2017 2:20 AM CDT
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A pedestrian in Caracas walks past a barricade set up by demonstrators during a 48-hour general strik in protest of President Nicolas Maduro's plans to rewrite the constitution.   (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
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(Newser) – The United States is ordering relatives of American diplomats to leave the Venezuelan capital ahead of a polarizing vote planned for Sunday to start rewriting the country's constitution. The State Department says it's also allowing US government workers to depart the embassy in Caracas and limiting the movement of those who stay. An updated travel warning also urges American citizens not to travel to Venezuela due to social unrest and violence, the AP reports.

The ordered departure comes three days before President Nicolas Maduro's government plans to hold a vote for an assembly tasked with overhauling the country's charter (much more on that here). Maduro's opposition says the election rules are rigged to strengthen his hold on power. The US has been urging Maduro to cancel the vote and threatening more US sanctions if it occurs. Five deaths reported from violence in the 24 hours through late Thursday drove the death toll from nearly four months of unrest above 100. The US slapped sanctions on 13 Venezuelans with ties to Maduro on Wednesday, and one of them offered the US a middle-finger salute in response.

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