Before the eyes of the world, the Venezuelan people awoke this past July 16, to join crowds and long lines at voting centers to participate in a trial run of the National Constituent Assembly elections to be held July 30, to chose members who will lay a new foundation for the country.
There was joy and confirmation of support for the Bolivarian Revolution, with chants of "La Constituyente va!" (The Constituent Assembly goes!), from participants of all ages waving their arms, jumping, shouting with smiling faces, who throughout the day were captured by television cameras. Without exaggerating, it can be said that people across the country experienced a huge celebration, an ode to peace and the struggle for happiness.
Within the whirlwind of events that have moved hearts in Venezuela over the last 18 years, there have been more than 20 electoral processes. Executive Vice President of the Bolivarian Republic, Tareck El Aissami, said here on national television that the people's response was a source of pride, that once again the people are hopeful, "determined to continue being free, sovereign, to continue living in democracy, in peace."
"It is the giant Bolivar who has awakened," he said, referring to his admiration given the trial run's success, emphasizing, "Here we are with many needs, with difficulties, but love is not in short supply, nor loyalty."
Commenting on the opposition, he stated, "This is the people's message, one that resoundingly rejects the coup plotters' agenda. Those who since April 6 have called for violence, today were defeated, isolated, and the people, in their majority, are expressing support for the path of peace."
There were reports of voting centers jam-packed, according to the Vice President, who also said he was glad that "many of the opposition's people" had participated in the rehearsal. This is a reaffirmation that strengthens the Bolivarian government's commitment to continue working for a Venezuela without violence, without economic war, without deteriorating living conditions for the people, he said.
"That the people, including those supporting the opposition, have come out for the trial run, creates a very strong commitment on our part," adding, "Let us work, govern in peace. July 30 is going to be a beautiful dawn, a dawn for the homeland, a dawn for the Constitution. We are moving toward a point of departure for a higher level of development of the Bolivarian Revolution."
Tibisay Lucena, president of the National Electoral Council (CNE), in a press conference on the day of the trial run, reported that 496 voting centers had been established across the country and 1,942 booths set up, each one with its own operator. She said that preliminary information indicated that the average time spent voting was around 16 seconds, constituting an important strength.
"With this simulation," she said, "we are trying out all aspects of logistical coordination between the different entities participating," and described the work carried out during the trial run, through midday, as very good.
"We want to ensure that the electoral process can be conducted without interruption, as the law stipulates, without any type of impediment, without any type of violence. We have been making requests to have the voting centers declared security zones," Lucena reported.
In response to a question about the opposition's internal poll, she stated, "This is a political activity like any other, like those political organizations have in accordance with their own strategies."
What's important, she emphasized, is that it is a political activity that has no legal consequences of any type for the citizenry; what is important is that no false expectations or focal points for violence be generated."
Elías Jaua Milano, head of the Presidential commission organizing the Constituent Assembly commented on the decision of the self-proclaimed Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) to burn the ballot boxes used in its internal vote, which they promoted as an alternative to the election of representatives to the Constituent Assembly. He said, on Venezuelan television, that he hoped this was the last time ballot boxes were ever burned in the country.
The Bolivarian leader, like many who appeared in the media and participated in the trial run with the people, congratulated Venezuelans for the successful simulation.
Likewise, Iris Varela, longtime Chavista and a candidate to serve in the Constituent Assembly, commented that in terms of popular participation, records had been broken, "We have never seen such a massive trial run." She also called on the opposition to join in.
President Nicolás Maduro described participation in the trail run as a cresting river, in a telephone conversation with Bolivarian leaders on the afternoon of the 16th, when long lines of voters run continued to form. He called the day's events impressive, saying, "We are going to give peace a chance, we are going to give the Constituent Assembly a chance."
Maduro said the response was a sure sign of the resounding victory that will be won July 30, in the actual vote.
"This Sunday, July 16, we have written the preamble to the great patriotic victory we will win in the election of the Constituent Assembly, thanks to the determination of the Venezuelan people who came out by the thousands to support the electoral trial run called by the CNE," he wrote on his Facebook page.
The head of state, quoted by AVN, commented that it was a historic day, "Never before has a process of this type received such overwhelming support. Hundreds of people remained in line at the electoral centers until late in the evening.
"I especially thank the people, for their confidence, their support, which assures us of the resounding victory we will have within two weeks, and that we will, all together, build peace and sovereignty," he said.
For his part, Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada called on the corporate media and correspondents from other countries to be responsible and rigorously accurate in disseminating information about Venezuela's political reality.
During a press conference, he denounced the fact that although the people's participation in the trial run was massive, the democratic exercise was ignored by international media, which presented the opposition MUD's internal poll as a "plebiscite," even though it had no legal effect or constitutional foundation, and was an attempt to undermine the country's stability and its institutions.
Moncada condemned the dissemination of fake news by some international media run by the powerful, in an attempt to discredit the Venezuelan government and deny its democratic character.
Revolutionary leader Delcy Rodríguez emphasized the overwhelming message of peace and democracy sent by the Venezuelan people on July 16 to the centers of hate and violence, by participating massively in the electoral trial run, leading up to the elections to select representatives to the National Constituent Assembly this coming July 30.