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Gideon Long in Caracas

When Javier Hernández turned up to work this week at the state-owned factory in Caracas where he has been employed for the past five years, his bosses refused to let him through the door.

“The head of human resources came out and told me I’d been dismissed,” said Mr Hernández, who is disabled and confined to a wheelchair. “They didn’t confirm it in writing, just by word of mouth.”

Mr Hernández’s offence? He refused to vote in last weekend’s election for candidates to Nicolás Maduro’s constituent assembly — a new legislative body created by the Venezuelan president in an effort to cling to power.