Those violating the order risked up to 10 years in prison. "If the Maduro regime imposes its Constituent Assembly on July 30, the United States will take strong and swift economic actions". But the hundreds of thousands who have sometimes taken to the streets during almost four months of anti-government protests were largely absent.
REEVES: Maduro's under growing global pressure to call off Sunday's vote.
Opponents of President Nicolas Maduro at home and overseas tried again Wednesday to pressure the socialist leader into halting his plans to rewrite Venezuela's constitution though there was no public sign their efforts were working.
With regard to the legitimacy of the vote itself, the spokesperson noted that it is "a hugely controversial issue" amplified by the fact that there had been an unofficial consultation by the opposition on the constituent assembly.
Even as he has pushed ahead with the constitutional rewrite, Maduro has been trying to get the opposition to the negotiating table in hope of quelling widespread protests and strikes in which nearly 100 people have died and and paralyzed much of the nation. The vote comes after months of economic crisis, political instability, mass protests, sanctions from the USA and violence. He didn't say whether the USA would sanction Venezuelan oil imports, a measure with the potential to undermine Maduro but cause an even deeper humanitarian crisis here.
Opposition leaders are urging Venezuelans to boycott Sunday's election for delegates to an assembly to rewrite the constitution.
Maduro did not ask whether Venezuelans actually wanted to replace their constitution, however.
Opposition leaders have said they are willing to talk only if Sunday's vote is postponed. The Canadian government recently took similar steps; four dependents of Canadian diplomats have left Caracas at least until after the vote is over, while five diplomats remain the capital.
Romero said the 23-year-old musician was playing his violin on the streets of Caracas and was not breaking any laws when he was detained Thursday.
The toll is expected to climb as authorities enforce a ban on protests ahead of a polarizing vote Sunday to begin the rewriting of Venezuela's constitution.
Venezuelans have been protesting against Maduro to demand he respect the opposition-led congress and resolve chronic food and medicine shortages that have driven malnutrition and health problems.
Global pressure to cancel the vote intensified Friday, with Vice President Mike Pence reiterating in a telephone call with opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez that the United States would respond with "strong and swift economic actions" if the election proceeds.
"We don't recognize any sanction", he said.
"The United States will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles", President Trump said in a statement earlier this month. "We insist on a peaceful solution for the country's situation،" said President Santos.
Maduro is aligned with the political movement of Hugo Chavez, the President from 1999 until his death in 2013.
In the eastern neighborhood of Bello Monte, the site of fierce battles with police in recent days, a 54-year-old shop owner named Ricardo watched masked adolescents block a road with dumpsters as a soot-smeared, emaciated man picked through their contents for bits of food.