Venezuela will vote Sunday to elect a new ruling assembly

5 Killed in Violence during Venezuelan Opposition's General Strike against Maduro Regime

"Arrest millions of people who protest?" opposition leader Henrique Capriles told reporters Friday.

President Nicolas Maduro has said the re-write is needed to restore order, but critics say supporters of him in the assembly would give him extensive powers, threatening democracy.

This week's death toll topped last week's one-day strike, when five people were killed.

Venezuelans fleeing acute food shortages, high crime and political unrest have flooded across the border to Colombia in recent years.

Despite the US sanctions and calls from countries including Canada to cancel Sunday's vote, the Maduro regime has shown no signs of backing down.

Across the city, residents said they wanted President Nicolas Maduro out of power but didn't want to risk their lives or livelihoods taking on his socialist government and its backers. White House officials are waiting for the result of the July 30 vote for representatives to the National Constituent Assembly, which will write the country's new constitution.

"It's normal that there's fear, but people are still coming out into the streets despite it all", a lawmaker in the opposition-controlled National Assembly, Freddy Guevara, said at one of the Caracas protests.

Venezuelan leaders, in turn, have accused Rubio and the Central Intelligence Agency of trying to topple Venezuela's government to put their own leaders with USA interests in charge of the country. "If the US wishes to help Venezuela resolve its political and economic crises, it needs to put aside talk of further sanctions and instead push both sides to reinitiate dialogue and support the ongoing efforts of former Spanish President Zapatero and Pope Francis to bring the two sides to the negotiating table".

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Opposition leaders are urging Venezuelans to boycott Sunday's election for delegates to an assembly to rewrite the constitution.

There has been widespread worldwide condemnation of Maduro's Constituent Assembly plan. The opposition refused to do this as well as stop supporting sanctions by the United States on the government, another Maduro demand.

Opposition demonstrators said urgency was increasing as they set up barricades along main roads in the capital, Caracas, pelted by sheets of rain and tear-gas canisters fired by police. "And that's what we're working on", Molina said.

On Wednesday, the USA imposed sanctions on 13 top officials of Venezuela's government for "undermining democracy", a move slammed by Maduro as "insolent" and "imperialist", just as the Venezuelan opposition initiated its general strike, demanding Maduro halt the July 30 election for a Constituent Assembly to draft a new constitution. As such, OHCHR reiterated the call for calm and for peaceful protests and for all sides to use only peaceful means to make their views heard.

Given Canada's concerns about the Maduro regime, Ms. Todgham Cherniak said she wonders why the government has not yet sanctioned any Venezuelans.

The state prosecutor's office said late on Friday 18-year-old Gustavo Villamizar had become the latest victim of protest violence.

Santos says he will continue advocating for a peaceful resolution to Venezuela's almost four months of political upheaval that has left at least 113 people dead.

Maduro is aligned with the political movement of Hugo Chavez, the leftist President from 1999 until his death in 2013. If anything, the new entity nearly guarantees more tension and political duress.

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