A masked anti-government activist stands amid a blocked street during clashes in Caracas on July 27, 2017 on the second day of a 48-hour general strike called by the opposition. Venezuela’s opposition called for a nationwide protest on Friday in outright defiance of a new government ban on demonstrations ahead of a controversial weekend election. (Photo credit: RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)

By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. July 28, 2017: In an effort to clamp down on protests that have been ongoing since April, the government of the South American nation of Venezuela has issued a complete ban – at least for the next five days.

“It is prohibited throughout all national territory, all public meetings and demonstrations, gatherings and other similar acts that might disturb the electoral process,” Interior Minister Néstor Reverol announced Thursday on state-run media, according to a CNN translation.

The move comes as the country careens toward a national referendum Sunday that was called by President Nicolas Maduro to select the members of a constituent assembly tasked with replacing the 18-year-old constitution.

He has positioned the move as a cure for the months of protests that have seized city streets after Venezuela’s Supreme Court made an abortive attempt to dissolve a National Assembly packed with opposition politicians.

Maduro did not ask whether Venezuelans actually wanted to replace their constitution, however. That question was posed to voters earlier this month in an unofficial, opposition-organized referendum — and the more than 7 million voters who participated overwhelmingly rejected Maduro’s plan.

Meanwhile, the death tolls between protesters and security forces in Venezuela has pushed the death toll past 100 according to an Associated Press count.

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