FIRST AIRED: July 16, 2017

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00:00:01
>> Tensions running high as Venezuelans cast ballots in an unofficial vote Sunday, challenging President Nicolas Maduro's controversial attempts to consolidate power. The informal poll, organized by Venezuela's opposition, marred by violence, as thousands turned out to participate. Reuters correspondent, Corina Rodriguez Pons is in Caracas.>> Behind me, you can see one of the voting stations, organized by the opposition in the country and around the world.
00:00:35
They want Maduro out, and they want to stop an election that is going to happen in two weeks time. The people that are voting today said they are angry because of food shortages, economic crisis, and also because the government has been sending opposition leaders to jail and violating human rights.
00:00:55
They are saying they are living in a dictatorship.>> At its core, Maduro's plan would create a so called Constituent Assembly, which would have powers to rewrite the constitution and supersede other institutions. Maduro says it's the only way to bring peace after three months of violent anti-government protests.
00:01:15
And while Sunday's opposition vote may be only symbolic, it's importance underlined by the weekend arrival in Caracas of a handful of former Latin-American presidents. Ex-Mexican president, Vicente Fox urging people to vote, saying the people must free themselves from a dictator. Maduro will seek public backing for his new government body in a vote scheduled for the end of July.
00:01:41
But Sunday's unofficial poll may end up showing the beleaguered Venezuelan president just how much opposition he's up against.>>
FOREIGN]