Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is urging voters to cast their ballots in Sunday's municipal elections to elect 335 new mayors and to teach the wider world "a lesson in democracy."
"I call on the people of Venezuela, on Sunday December 10, to go out to the polling stations to vote, to elect mayors and mayors who will govern together with the people," Maduro said during a ceremony Friday.
"It is very important because Venezuela is a very democratic, free country and it is the only country on the planet that in 18 years has made 23 elections and the Revolution has won in a free and impeccable manner 21 out of 23."
Maduro stressed the importance of improving "the efficiency, the capacity of the mayor and the mayor's government," noting that "the mayor's offices have to acquire an increasing preponderance and greater power with the people."
Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza earlier defended the country's political process ahead of imminent municipal elections, saying: "So vigorous is our democracy that it is attacked by the big centers of power."
Speaking during a meeting with international observers in Caracas Friday, Arreaza said: "There are few countries in the world that can question our democracy, although we can share knowledge to improve our institutions," El Nacional reports.
"There have been no incidents to regret during the election campaign, but there are other countries in Latin America where unfortunately candidates are killed during electoral campaigns.
"This electoral campaign has been carried out in peace: Venezuela is a country with a great democratic spirit, which the facts have already demonstrated."
Arreaza said Venezuela's forthcoming municipal elections, due December 10, are indicative of the country's political wellbeing, not only domestically but also in relation to other countries.
"In Venezuela, it is impossible for what is happening in Honduras to happen here. The results there surprised the ruling elite, and that is why the results have been delayed."
He also strongly criticized the response by the Organization of American States (OAS) to Honduras' disputed presidential elections, branding it "a failure."
"The OAS goes like a supranational electoral council or supra-electoral tribunal, but look at the failure in Honduras: they have been unable to verify if that electoral system is reliable," he said.
"We are very concerned about what is occurring in the Honduran elections. Imagine for a moment that it had been in Venezuela: how many international attacks would we be receiving?"
Millions of voters will head to the polls Sunday to elect 335 mayors as well as a governor for Zulia state.