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  • Venezuelans during the vote for the country

    Venezuelans during the vote for the country's National Constituent Assembly, July 30, 2017. | Photo: teleSUR

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teleSUR caught up with Kovalik for an interview just before he boarded his flight from Caracas, after being an international observer for the ANC.

Leading up to Venezuela's historic National Constituent Assembly, the country's National Electoral Council invited Dan Kovalik, a U.S. human rights and labor lawyer, to be an international observer in the voting process.

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Kovalik, who was in Vargas State and visited several voting centers, emphasized that Sunday's vote was marked by plenty of popular engagement.

“People were very enthusiastic,” he said, adding that they “waited in long lines in the hot sun to vote.” Kovalik noted that a couple of the voting centers he'd visited “were actually like big festivals” where food was being served, music played and people were “dancing, celebrating.”

He emphasized that the CNE made ample accommodations for those who wanted to cast their vote in the ANC but were prevented from doing so because of opposition threats, violence, or other reasons.

When asked about efforts to stop the elections, Kovalik cited U.S. threats to constrain Venezuela's oil-industry, as well as violent acts carried out by some sectors of the right-wing opposition, one of which claimed the life of Jose Felix Pineda, an ANC candidate, on the eve of the vote.

He also commented on the questionable practices of Avianca and Air France airlines, which abruptly “canceled flights” to and from Venezuela as the nation proceeded with its ANC on Sunday.

In terms of mainstream corporate media's disapproval of Venezuela's democratic Bolivarian government and its popular constitution, Kovalik said that they've “missed” the fact that a referendum will be held at a later date to determine if all Venezuelans accept or refuse the new constitution drafted by constituent members.

Whereas mainstream media's portrayal of Venezuela overwhelmingly characterizes the nation as a dictatorship-in-the-making, Kovalik refuted such claims.

“In fact,” he stated, Venezuela's ANC “opens the possibility for greater democracy,” adding that the 545 ANC delegates elected on Sunday “represent various sectors of the population,” including Indigenous people, students, women, disabled people, workers, and Afro-Venezuelans.

To that end, Kovalik echoed former U.S. President Jimmy Carter's conclusion in 2012 that, after monitoring over 90 elections worldwide, he views the election process in Venezuela as being “the best in the world.”

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Asked if a constituent assembly could help resolve some of the many problems facing the United States, Kovalik said that rewriting the U.S. Constitution, the nation's Magna Carta since 1789, could finally do away with an electoral college which saw a presidential candidate who, despite winning the popular vote, lose last year's election to Donald Trump.

Other improvements proposed by a U.S. constituent assembly might include “making (Washington) D.C. a state;” elaborating amendments that would end the present state of racist gerrymandering, and fulfill women s' demands for an equal rights amendment.

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