Venezuelans Rally as Constituent Assembly Campaign Closes

Caracas-The electoral campaign for members of Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly ended on Thursday with tens of thousands of people attending a large event in the capital city of Caracas.

The closing event featured hundreds of candidates giving their final speeches outlining their proposals for the constituent body which will be rewriting the country's constitution following the vote this Sunday, July 30th.

Thousands of people have turned out to hear the speeches before the election called by President Nicolas Maduro to arrive at a peaceful solution through dialogue to the current political situation in the country.  Nearly 20 million Venezuelans are expected to choose from 6,120 candidates representing diverse sectors and territories of society for the 545-member assembly.

Speaking at the Palace of Miraflores, Maduro invited everyone to attend the rally in support of the elections.  He said Chavistas and members of the ruling PSUV party will ensure all citizens can exercise their right to vote without any threats.  "We are going to make a wonderful act of reaffirmation of peace with the Constituent Assembly, preparing for peace."

Meanwhile, some parts of the opposition have called for a boycott of the election and have rejected Maduro's repeated calls for dialogue.  Opposition-led protests aimed at toppling the Bolivarian government began in early April and in addition to over 100 killed, some 1,200 have been injured.  The right-wing MUD coalition has maintained its belligerent position, calling for a week of actions in hopes of disrupting the elections, which have failed to gain any significant support.

On Wednesday, the U.S. government announced sanctions on 13 Venezuelan senior officials making good on threats by President Donald Trump, who said if Venezuela goes ahead with the July 30 election, the U.S. would impose "strong and swift" sanctions on the South American country.

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