After three months of opposition-led protests aimed at toppling the Bolivarian government of Venezuela, the nation's National Constituent Assembly campaign got underway Sunday, which aims to stop the violence and promote dialogue.
A total of 6,120 candidates will participate in the electoral campaign which will culminate on July 27. The process will be in two stages. The first will include 3,546 municipal candidates vying for a spot to represent their respective territories. The second will include 2,574 aspiring sector applicants who will visit workers, employers, students, people with disabilities, campesinos, fishermen, and pensioners to discuss and debate proposals.
The final vote will be held on July 30, with nearly 20 million Venezuelans set to cast their ballot, according to the National Electoral Council.
Delcy Rodriguez, Venezuela's former foreign minister and ANC candidate, described the national constituent assembly as the only option for peace.
"There is no other option if we are really committed to peace. There is no dilemma. There is an option and that is to go out and vote massively," she said.
When voting is complete, the National Constituent Assembly will be composed of 545 Venezuelans. The final tally will include 364 territorial and 173 sector representatives: one per municipality; two per state capital; seven for each capital region; and eight Indigenous constituents selected in accordance with their respective customs and traditions.
Amid growing right-wing sabotage which included the torching of 40 tons of subsidized food and a helicopter terrorist attack against the Supreme Court and Ministry of Interior, Justice and Peace headquarters in the past two weeks, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has called for the ANC to help foster dialogue and peace in the country. At least 95 people have died and over one thousand have been injured since the opposition protests began in early April.
However, most anti-government groups have chosen to boycott the process aimed at bringing peace to the country.
Responding to their objection to participate in the ANC, Maduro and Rodriguez have said that the real plan behind the protests is to instigate widespread chaos which would further destabilize the country, with foreign intervention and the toppling of the Bolivarian government being the end game.
Campaigning for the ANC comes as Lilian Tintori, wife of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, thanked Delcy Rodriguez for her help in securing her husband's release.
"I said thanks to Delcy Rodriguez and Jorge Rodriguez. We have to work together if we are to understand one another and reach an immediate solution to the crisis in Venezuela."