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U.S. orders diplomats' families to leave Venezuelan capital

Crisis in Venezuela

WASHINGTON -- The United States is ordering relatives of American diplomats to leave the Venezuelan capital ahead of a polarizing vote planned for Sunday to start rewriting the country's constitution. So far the death toll has soared past 100.

The State Department says it's also allowing U.S. government workers to depart the embassy in Caracas and limiting the movement of those who stay.

The guidance in the statement reads: "All U.S. direct-hire personnel and their families assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Caracas are subject to an embassy movement policy that limits their travel within Caracas and many parts of the country. Inter-city travel by car during hours of darkness (6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.) is strongly discouraged and in some cases may be prohibited. U.S. government personnel must also request approval for travel outside of Caracas."

An updated travel warning also urges American citizens not to travel to Venezuela due to social unrest and violence.  

The ordered departure comes three days before President Nicolas Maduro's government plans to hold a vote for an assembly tasked with overhauling the country's charter. Maduro's opposition says the election rules are rigged to strengthen his hold on power.

The U.S. has been urging Maduro to cancel the vote and threatening more U.S. sanctions if occurs.

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Demonstrators use a tire on fire to block a street at a rally during a strike called to protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, Venezuela, on Wed., July 26, 2017. Reuters
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