BOGOTÁ, Colombia — The legitimacy of Sunday’s election to overhaul Venezuela’s Constitution was under threat as many voters avoided the ballot box, nations across the region rejected the predetermined result and the nation’s streets saw their deadliest day of civil unrest in three months.
President Nicolás Maduro had ordered a rewriting of Venezuela’s Constitution. The election on Sunday was simply to pick the members of the constituent assembly that will carry it out; there was no option to reject the process.
Nearly all candidates were politicians close to Mr. Maduro, presumably assuring that the outcome would leave his leftist movement with complete control of the country once the assembly takes charge.
“I said rain, thunder or lightning, the 30th of July was going to come,” the president said in a shaky video made from his vehicle after he cast his ballot. He remained sanguine throughout the day, saying the vote would soon bring peace to a country where more than 110 people have died in unrest during protests this year against his rule.
But the powers of the new assembly members will be so vast that they could possibly remove Mr. Maduro from office, some analysts noted, ending a presidency that has been deeply unpopular, even among many leftists.
As the day rolled on, many countries — some once aligned with Venezuela’s leftist ideology — rejected the result, including Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Spain, Chile, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Peru.
Nikki R. Haley, United States ambassador to the United Nations, called the vote a “sham election” that would lead to a dictatorship as the United States threatened sanctions against Venezuela’s economy.
“If these other countries don’t recognize Venezuela as a democracy, it will be hard for them to look like a legitimate power,” said David Smilde, a senior fellow specializing in Venezuela at the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights advocacy group. Mr. Smilde mentioned a list of consequences that such isolation could entail, from access to bank loans to straining diplomatic ties with its largest neighbors.
One candidate for the constituent assembly, José Félix Pineda, a 39-year-old lawyer, was killed in his home the night before the vote. Prosecutors said an armed group had broken into Mr. Pineda’s home in Ciudad Bolívar on Saturday night and shot him dead there.
Hours later, a large explosion rocked a middle-class neighborhood in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, injuring seven police officers on patrol there. Video circulated on social media showed the uniformed officers, all on motorcycles, riding into a fireball that had just erupted in front of them.
Nearby residents applauded as the security forces threw tear gas at them.
As the day wore on, government security forces used water cannons, rubber bullets and batons against opposition protesters, just as they have for the last three months.
At least 10 people were killed in clashes between the police and protesters, the government said, including two boys, ages 13 and 17, who were shot in the western state of Táchira. A police officer was shot in front of a school in Táchira, and a 43-year-old man was killed in the central city of Barquisimeto in Lara State when a bullet pierced his head, according to the state prosecutor’s office.
The force of the unrest raised fears that Mr. Maduro’s efforts to consolidate power could steer the country toward deeper civil conflict.
The government took strong precautions to control Sunday’s vote. It outlawed protests in the days before and after, vowing tough sentences for those who disobeyed. And it barred many news outlets, including The New York Times, from entering polling stations to interview voters.
Some of those interviewed outside, where lines were short or nonexistent, said they hoped the government would use the new powers of the constituent assembly to crush the opposition, whose control of the legislature has already been weakened this year by the courts, which are aligned with the Maduro government.
“The constituent assembly will be the power,” said Javier Granadillo, a 46-year-old mechanic who voted in Caracas and blamed the opposition for the country’s current crisis. “If any part of the government doesn’t do its job, they will be dissolved.”
However, some polls leading up to Sunday’s voting showed that large majorities of Venezuelans did not think their country needed a new Constitution.
This month, Venezuelans issued a stinging rebuke to Mr. Maduro by turning out in droves during a symbolic vote held by the opposition. More than seven million votes were cast, opposition leaders said, with 98 percent against rewriting the Constitution.
But the outside encouragement seemed to do little to strengthen the opposition on Sunday. Leaders canceled a rally scheduled in the afternoon because of the clashes rocking the country. A demonstration on Friday, billed as a last stand against the vote, was poorly attended.
Instead, opposition members took to their social media accounts to drum up support.
“Today’s journey has been one of abstention and repression, with dead and wounded,” wrote Henrique Capriles, the opposition governor of the state of Miranda who narrowly lost to Mr. Maduro in 2013’s presidential election and was banned this year from running again. “A monumental failure!”
The focus of many voters in Caracas seemed to be on food, not politics. Venezuela remains in an economic tailspin, causing severe shortages of food and medicine.
“When the opposition got the National Assembly they said there would be food, and now it’s even worse,” said Juan Carlos Hernández, 43, a government employee who said he supported Mr. Maduro.
“The first thing I’m asking of the constitutional assembly is that they start putting out food,” he said, “because if they don’t, the people are going to get angry.”
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