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Bombs Explode at Spanish Embassy in Caracas

  • VOA News

A pedestrian passes next to the Spanish embassy in Caracas, Venezuela, Aug. 3, 2017.

The Spanish embassy in Venezuela has been hit by explosive devices lobbed by two people on a motorcycle.

Prosecutors reported the incident Thursday, describing the explosives as gasoline bombs. There are no reports of casualties. It appeared that the building sustained no damage.

The first meeting of the 545 delegates elected to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution is scheduled for Friday at the legislative palace in Caracas, setting the stage for a possible showdown between President Nicolas Maduro and the political opposition, which says the election of the constituent assembly was not fair.

The United States will not recognize the National Constituent Assembly, the U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement, adding that the election lacked credible international observation.

The U.S. considers the Assembly “the illegitimate product of a flawed process designed by the Maduro dictatorship to further its assault on democracy,” Nauert said.

Opposition leaders are calling for a mass protest Friday.

“The only way they’ll get us out of here is by killing us,” said opposition spokesman Freddy Guevara. “They will never have the seat that the people of Venezuela gave us.”

Freddy Guevara, first Vice-President of the National Assembly and lawmaker of the Venezuelan coalition of opposition parties (MUD), attends a session of Venezuela's opposition-controlled National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, Aug. 2, 2017.
Freddy Guevara, first Vice-President of the National Assembly and lawmaker of the Venezuelan coalition of opposition parties (MUD), attends a session of Venezuela's opposition-controlled National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, Aug. 2, 2017.

Fraud investigation

Venezuela’s attorney general, Luisa Ortega Diaz, said Thursday she had opened an investigation into alleged voter fraud. She filed the request for investigation in a lower court, after earlier filing complaints about the constitutionality of the new assembly with the nation’s Supreme Court.

Venezuela’s president and election chief Wednesday denied a report that voter turnout numbers were manipulated and inflated by at least 1 million for the controversial election to choose an assembly to rewrite the national constitution.

The head of the National Election Council, Tibisay Lucena, said the claim by a British election-technology firm was irresponsible, and she threatened to begin legal action against the company.

FILE - Venezuela's National Electoral Council (CNE) President Tibisay Lucena speaks during a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela, Aug. 1, 2016.
FILE - Venezuela's National Electoral Council (CNE) President Tibisay Lucena speaks during a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela, Aug. 1, 2016.

“This is an unprecedented opinion from a firm whose only role in the electoral process is to provide certain services and technical support that has no bearing on the results,” Lucena said.

The head of British firm Smartmatic, Antonio Mugica, said in London Wednesday there is no question in his mind that the total reported vote was false. He did not, however, say whether vote tampering altered the outcome of Sunday’s balloting.

“Based on the robustness of our system, we know without any doubt that the turnout of the recent election for a National Constituent Assembly was manipulated,” Mugica said. “We estimate the difference between the actual participation and the one announced by authorities was at least 1 million.”

Maduro: 'Transparent Vote'

President Nicolas Maduro said in televised remarks that Mugica was pressured by the United States and Britain. He also repeated the government’s stance that eight million people voted, adding that the turnout would have been 10 million if others had not been blocked by protesters.

FILE - Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, 2nd right, speaks during a meeting with members of the Constituent Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, Aug. 2, 2017. The text in the back reads, "Heroic Venezuela."
FILE - Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, 2nd right, speaks during a meeting with members of the Constituent Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, Aug. 2, 2017. The text in the back reads, "Heroic Venezuela."

“This election cannot be stained by anyone, because it was a transparent vote,” Maduro said.

The opposition, which boycotted the vote, said turnout was less than 4 million, and that account was reinforced by journalists’ reports that dozens of polling places around Caracas were almost deserted Sunday.

The president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, Julio Borges, said Smartmatic’s findings are “complete confirmation” of what the opposition and election analysts had suspected.

Pre-election polls showed more than 70 percent of all Venezuelans opposed a body to change the constitution.

The opposition contends the vote was rigged to pack the assembly with supporters of Maduro. Maduro’s opponents are demanding early presidential elections. The next scheduled election is October 2018.

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