Anti-government protesters shout at National Guards during a protest against Nicolas Maduro's government at Altamira square in Caracas. Picture: Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Caracas, Venezuela - The wives of two jailed Venezuelan mayors are looking to succeed their husbands in special elections that have come to symbolize the prominent role women are playing in three-month-old protests against President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government.

Patricia Gutierrez and Rosa Brandonisio had scant experience in politics when their husbands were ousted in March, at the height of unrest. They were arrested for allegedly failing to carry out a government order to remove street barricades in the opposition strongholds they governed.

Although little-known to voters previously, both women are expected to coast to victory when residents of San Cristobal and San Diego vote Sunday to choose new mayors. They're vowing to continue their husbands' fight to force Maduro from office.