Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans gathered outside schools, libraries and municipal buildings wrapping around streets at dawn to cast their vote for the National Constituent Assembly, or as many describe it a “Fiesta de Paz” or “Peace Party.”
Leading the way was a 100-year-old grandmother who arrived at five in the morning with a message of peace. “Venezuela does not stop for anyone,” the woman said adding that the voting process was a “marvelous experience” and was surprised by how quickly the line moved.
She is not alone in her message of peace. teleSUR correspondents Monica Vistali and Alejandro Kirk joined the crowds to record their thoughts on this historic day.
“What is your message, what do you want to transmit with your vote,” our correspondent asked one man as he stood in line.
“Love of my country,” he responded. “I love my country and I will fight the rest of my life for my country. It's not about guarimbas (violent barricades) or anything else. It is about defending our country."
Behind him, an elderly woman echoed his statements. She said the ANC symbolizes “an achievement for the world country, especially for peace."
"There is no terrorism that can deal with the will of the Venezuelan people. He who has eyes, let him see."
Someone in Merida state, a stronghold of right-wing opposition forces, said that she had to sort of sneak out to vote because of feared violence from opposition supporters. But she said she was delighted by the amount of people that were at the voting center, adding that people were "enthusiastic and happy as they challenged fear and terror."
As she left the voting booth, another voter said she was "Happy because we are tired of being shut in by the protesters, we are besieged by so much evil, but we are not like that. We are people of peace, there have been too many deaths, too many kids hurt in the streets. We want peace. I am voting for peace."
One woman explained that the Constituent Assembly perfectly reflects Chavez’s missions and dream for Venezuela, saying that it's “a message of peace over all in order to make the people free and sovereignty according to Chavez,” she explained, becoming emotional as she spoke.
“Chavez fought a lot for the people during his life. Long live the Constituent (Assembly),” the woman said, thanking her representatives for carrying on Chavez’s mission.
“#VenezuelaVotaHoy I am not home because I am going out to fight,” wrote firefighter Valentin Jose Villarroel Gonzalez on his Facebook page, encouraging his friends and followers to do the same.
At voting stations around the country, there was an air of celebration as Venezuelans demonstrated their excitement and pride at taking the future of their country into their own hands by choosing 545 delegates from different social sectors and territories to rewrite the national constitution in an effort to bring peace and dialogue to the country.
In one of a few isolated incidents of opposition violence that had vowed to shut down the elcction, in the community of Borburata in Carabobo state, a group of opposition protesters at the Julia Rosa Castillo School voting center threw stones and Molotov cocktails at the national guard protecting the voting station.
As a result, Moreno Blanco Fander Eduardo was shot in the right leg and transported to a local clinic where he is stable. The voting center was relocated to Manuel Palacios Preschool, where everything is calm.
Voting is set to end at 5 p.m. local time, unless people are still in line and then polls will stay open until everyone exercises their right to vote.