Venezuelans stage general strike against Maduro's leadership

El Salvador’s President Salvador Sanchez Ceren defended Maduro at Nicaragua

"No foreign government controls Venezuela", President Nicolas Maduro told a nationally televised meeting of his National Defence Council, an emergency body he convened Tuesday in reaction to Trump's critiques.

The strike comes as the Trump administration in the USA weighs up imposing "swift economic actions" if Maduro goes ahead with the election.

Maduro also is denouncing what he characterizes as an opposition attack outside the offices of VTV, Venezuela's state broadcaster. As a result, they are starting riots and anti-governmental action across the country.

Despite Trump's threats, Venezuela has continued to forge ties with some United States-based oil companies working to improve relations.

"Yesterday, the Venezuelan people again made clear that they stand for democracy, freedom, and rule of law", Trump wrote in a statement.

Maduro has vowed to punish "conspirators" who try to stop him, and the country's military has reaffirmed its loyalty to the president by saying it would protect the polling for the Constituent Assembly.

"This is my response, the constituent assembly does not belong to me".

Maduro himself addressed Trump's statements on television Tuesday night, reading aloud a statement from the USA government demanding Maduro cease attempting to replace the nation's constitution and joking that the statement referred to him as "president", saying, "That's a first-one point for us!"

At a press conference, Padrino Lopez read a statement from the army, vowing that "the FANB categorically rejects interfering acts.and repudiates the damaging declaration of U.S. President Donald Trump who.has dared to cruelly threaten the Venezuelan people".

The day was a tense one in Venezuela: amid rising malnutrition and fears of a future Marxist dictatorship, over seven million Venezuelans took part in an unofficial plebiscite on President Maduro's proposal to convoke an assembly to rewrite the nation's constitution.

"I would like to call on this government to stop the killings, to stop the violation of human rights, to reconsider and reflect on their position and think about the importance of the country as a whole", said Medina, who appeared to be speaking in the video from the U.N.'s NY headquarters.

"The Constituent Assembly is going ahead!"

Polls show Venezuela's ruling Socialists would be thrashed in any conventional election.

And senior administration officials who briefed reporters Tuesday denounced what they called the "dictatorial" regime in Caracas and demanded a "re-establishment" of democracy.

European Union diplomat Federica Mogherini likewise urged President Nicolas Maduro to suspend plans to convene the ANC, noting that the move would be "an important gesture" toward de-escalating tensions.

"There are now about 15,000 Cubans in Venezuela", he said.

Maduro defended Venezuela's "dignity and sovereignty" against these threats Monday, telling Rajoy to "get your nose out of Venezuela" while reminding the "insolent" Mogherini that "Venezuela is a free, sovereign country. not a colony of Europe". "The dignity of our people is at stake", he added.

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