News / Americas

    Capriles, Maduro at Each Other’s Throats in Venezuela Election

    A peddler offer t-shirts with images of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in front of the Military Academy in Caracas, Mar. 14, 2013.
    A peddler offer t-shirts with images of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in front of the Military Academy in Caracas, Mar. 14, 2013.
    Reuters
    Presidential candidates Nicolas Maduro and Henrique Capriles have begun Venezuela’s election race with scathing personal attacks even as mourners still file past the late Hugo Chavez’s corpse.

    Maduro, who was sworn in as acting president after Chavez succumbed to cancer last week, is seen as the favorite to win the April 14 election, bolstered by an oil-financed state apparatus and a wave of public sympathy over Chavez’s death.

    “I am not Chavez, but I am his son,” Maduro told thousands of cheering, red-clad supporters as he formally presented his candidacy to the election board on Monday.

    Chavez made clear before his fourth and last cancer operation in December that he wanted Maduro to be his Socialist Party’s candidate to succeed him if he died.

    Maduro has vowed to continue the socialist policies of Chavez’s 14-year rule in the South American OPEC nation, including the popular use of vast oil revenues for social programs. But Capriles is promising a tough fight.

    “Nicolas, I’m not going to give you a free passage ... you are not Chavez,” Capriles said in a combative speech late on Sunday. He also accused Maduro of lying to minimize Chavez’s medical condition while he prepared his candidacy.

    “Nicolas lied to this country for months,” Capriles said. “You are exploiting someone who is no longer here because you have nothing else to offer the country ... I don’t play with death, I don’t play with suffering, like that.”

    Within minutes, in a late-night address to the nation, Maduro said his rival was playing with fire, offending Chavez’s family and risking legal action.

    “You can see the disgusting face of the fascist that he is,” a visibly furious Maduro said, alleging that the opposition was hoping to stir up violence.

    “His aim is to provoke the Venezuelan people.”

    At stake in the election is not only the future of Chavez’s socialist “revolution,” but the continuation of Venezuelan oil subsidies and other aid crucial to the economies of left-wing allies around Latin America, from Cuba to Bolivia.

    Venezuela boasts the world’s largest oil reserves.

    Chavez’s wishes

    Thousands of Maduro supporters, waving photos of Chavez, accompanied him at the election board’s headquarters in downtown Caracas. “I’m backing Maduro because Chavez asked us,” said law student Marliely Lopez, 22.

    Chavez’s voice boomed from loudspeakers at the rally. Shaken by Chavez’s death and now immersed in an ugly election campaign, Venezuelans saw some semblance of normality return on Monday as most schools and shops re-opened after being closed for most of last week.

    The official mourning period for Chavez ends on Tuesday. Several million have paid their respects at his coffin at a military academy in a dramatic outpouring of grief.

    Though criticized by many for his authoritarian tendencies and handling of the economy, Chavez was loved by millions, especially the poor, because of his own humble background, plain language, attacks on global “imperialists” and the domestic “elite,” as well as his welfare policies in Venezuela’s slums.

    In death, he is fast earning a near-religious status among supporters, perhaps akin to that of Argentina’s former populist ruler Juan Peron and his deeply loved wife Eva Peron.

    State TV has been playing speeches and appearances by Chavez over and over, next to a banner saying “Chavez lives forever.”

    “We have the honor of having shared with the Bolivarian leader the same ideals of social justice and of support for the exploited,” Chavez’s friend and mentor, Fidel Castro, said in the latest of many tributes to him.

    “I remembered the times he joked with me saying that when both of us finished our revolutionary work, he would invite me to spend time by the Arauca River in Venezuelan territory, which reminded him of the rest he never had.”

    Opposition’s uphill race

    Though there are hopes for a post-Chavez rapprochement between ideological foes Venezuela and the United States, a diplomatic spat worsened on Monday when Washington expelled two Venezuelan diplomats in a tit-for-tat retaliation.

    Two U.S. military attaches were ordered out last week, on the day of Chavez’s death, for allegedly conspiring with locals against the government.

    Chavez’s many local detractors are keeping a low profile. But they say his memory is being burnished to forget less savory parts of his rule like the bullying of opponents and stifling of private businesses with nationalizations often announced on a whim.

    Capriles, a 40-year-old centrist governor who describes himself as a “progressive” and an admirer of Brazil’s model, ran in the last presidential election in October, taking 44 percent of the votes, but was unable to prevent Chavez’s re-election.

    While attacking Maduro’s handling of the crisis over Chavez’s cancer, Capriles will try to turn the focus of this month-long election campaign to the many day-to-day problems afflicting Venezuelans, from electricity cuts to crime and an inflation rate that is among the world’s highest.

    Maduro, 50, a burly one-time bus driver and union leader who echoes Chavez’s anti-imperialist rhetoric, is sure to make his former boss the centerpiece of his campaign while casting himself as the only heir.

    Two opinion polls before Chavez’s death gave Maduro a lead of more than 10 percentage points.

    “This is going to be a really tough campaign for us, we know,” said an aide at Capriles’ office in Caracas.

    “It’s hard to get everyone enthused and pumped again, we’ve only got a month, and we’re fighting Chavez’s ghost, not Maduro. But believe me, we’ll give it our best.”

    Chavez’s death and the imminent vote have eclipsed other pressing issues in Venezuela, including a raft of economic austerity measures the government had been expected to announce.

    You May Like

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    More Americas News

    World Anti-Doping Agency Suspends Rio Olympics Testing Lab

    WADA says lab has committed 'procedural errors' and is in 'nonconformity with the International Standards for Laboratories'

    Displacement in Colombia to Persist Despite Cease-fire, UN Says

    Organized crime involved in drugs, illegal mining, extortion will keep displacing Colombians, a UNHCR official says

    OAS Chief Blames Maduro Government for Venezuela Crisis

    Meeting by Organization of American States on Thursday leads to majority voting to invoke organization's democratic charter on Venezuela, which could lead to country's suspension

    Argentina at UN Renews Call for Falklands Talks; Britain Rebuffs

    There will be no dialogue without permission of the Falklanders, says spokesman for Britain's UN mission

    Colombia, FARC Rebels Sign Cease-fire Agreement

    Cease-fire is last major step before both sides sign a final peace agreement that would end 52 years of guerilla warfare and terrorism

    Brazil's Cunha Indicted on Money Laundering, Currency Charges

    It's the second time charges have been accepted against Cunha in probe of kickbacks paid to politicians by construction companies working with Petrobras