Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans across the world voted in an unofficial plebiscite Sunday to symbolically reject President Nicolas Maduro’s decision to rewrite the South American country’s constitution on July 30.

In Edmonton, approximately 500 expatriates gathered at the Meadows Community Recreation Centre in an effort to show the Venezuelan government their disapproval of a constitution the opposition says would fill the constitutional assembly with Maduro supporters.

“This is the will of the majority of the people, and hopefully we’ll be able to have millions of Venezuelans voting today and we will say clear and out loud to the world, ‘this is what we want’,” organizer Jorge Robles told CTV Edmonton.

The plebiscite asked three questions:

  1. Do you reject Maduro’s upcoming constitutional assembly?
  2. Do you demand the military to defend the current constitution, and support the National Assembly?
  3. Do you approve of national elections to elect a new government, as the constitution dictates?

Venezuelans who denounce Maduro’s constitutional assembly want the military to turn its back on the president’s controversial move.

“And also to the military forces, we want to remind them, their duty is to defend, not the president, not the Supreme Court – the constitution.”

Government officials say opposition leaders are misleading their supporters with the plebiscite.

“They've invented this July 16 thing to put the burden on their own people and evade their responsibility,” former Vice-President Diosdado Cabello said Saturday. “That's how the right is, manipulative, fooling their own people.”

Polls show that approximately 20 per cent of Venezuelans want the current government to rewrite the late Hugo Chavez’s 1999 constitution.

The opposition have held protests nearly every day since early April, blaming the government for the collapse of the country’s economy and its widespread shortages. Clashes with police have left around 100 people dead.

With files from the Associated Press