Venezuela's chief prosecutor's office is reporting three deaths on the day of a controversial vote for a constituent assembly that opposition leaders fear will trigger the end of democracy in Venezuela. The office tweeted that 28-year-old Angelo Mendez and 39-year-old Eduardo Olave were killed at a protest Sunday in Merida. Thirty-year-old Ricardo Campos was killed in a separate incident in Sucre. Few details were provided on the deaths. Leaders with the opposition Democratic Action party on Twitter identified Campos as the group's youth secretary in Sucre, a state in northern Venezuela east of the nation's capital. The deaths bring to at least 116 those killed in nearly four months of political upheaval, reports the AP.
Venezuelans appear to be abstaining in massive numbers in a show of silent protest against a vote to select a constitutional assembly giving the government virtually unlimited powers. Across the capital on Sunday, dozens of polling places were empty or had a few dozens or hundreds of people outside, orders of magnitude less than the turnout in recent elections. A sports and cultural complex known as the Poliedro had several thousand people waiting about two hours to vote, many having traveled from opposition-dominated neighborhoods where polling places were closed. The dozens of other sites seen by the AP had lines of approximately 200 to 400 people. All the others had at most a couple of dozen voters, and many had less than a half-dozen or were completely empty. The run-up to the vote has been marked by months of clashes between protesters and the government. The Trump administration has imposed successive rounds of sanctions on high-ranking members of Maduro's administration, with the support of countries including Mexico, Colombia, and Panama. (Read more Venezuela elections stories.)