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Venezuela government cracks down on opposition amid UN's calls to cease violence against protesters

[JURIST] The Venezuela Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the arrest and removal of the mayor of Chacao, Ramon Muchacho. Muchacho was sentenced to 15 months in prison after he refused to take down barricades set up during anti-government demonstrations. President Nicolás Maduro continued his efforts to shut down opposition to the government when the new constitutional assembly composed solely of pro-government delegates convened on Tuesday as well. Opposition delegates were not allowed to enter the building while the pro-government assembly convened to pass decrees in support of Maduro. Coinciding with these developments, the UN Human Rights Office [official website] issued a short report [press release] condemning the Venezuelan government's use of force to stifle opposition to the government. The UN investigation revealed instances of security forces using tear gas on protestors, deaths among protestors, and over five-thousand detentions. The full report of the UN's findings is set to be released later in August.

Venezuela has been going through significant political unrest between the government and anti-government opposition recently. In July violent protests erupted [JURIST report] after a controversial election for a new assembly that would have the power to rewrite the nation's constitution. Earlier in July Venezuela's opposition party made a call [JURIST report] for a 48-hour general strike to be held in response to the scheduled election. A non-binding referendum vote [JURIST report] was held in Venezuela earlier in July in regards to the proposed new constitution which showed that 98 percent of the voters rejected the new constitution. The vote was boycotted by many government supporters. In May the US Department of the Treasury announced sanctions [JURIST report] against Venezuelan Supreme Court justices for usurping democracy. In October the National Assembly voted to open criminal impeachment [JURIST report] proceedings against Maduro, alleging that he manipulated the constitution to remain in power. That same month the Assembly also declared [JURIST report] that there was a breakdown of constitutional order and that the government had staged a coup by blocking an attempt to remove Maduro from power. Instability peaked on March 30 when the Supreme Court of Venezuela dissolved [JURIST report] the opposition-controlled National Assembly and assumed all legislative powers.

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