News / Americas

Venezuela's Next President to Face Economic Challenges, Social Divide

Henrique Capriles, Venezuela's opposition leader and governor of Miranda state, addresses the media in Caracas March 10, 2013.
Henrique Capriles, Venezuela's opposition leader and governor of Miranda state, addresses the media in Caracas March 10, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Pamela Dockins
An intense political battle is under way in Venezuela as opposition leader Henrique Capriles gears up to challenge acting President Nicolas Maduro in the April 14 presidential election.  Analysts say the winner of the race will face daunting challenges in rebuilding the country following the March 5 death of longtime leader Hugo Chavez from cancer.

Supporters of opposition leader Henrique Capriles cheered after he told them he would fight for Venezuela, no matter the costs.

If elected, he could face a challenge in keeping that promise.

Council of the Americas Vice President Eric Farnsworth says President Chavez did not leave the country in good shape for a successor.

"President Chavez left Venezuela burdened with a huge amount of debt which is going to be difficult to service," said Farnsworth. "He left an economy that is highly dependent on one product, oil, and if that continues, that is going to be a problem.”

Ray Walser is a policy analyst for Latin America at the Heritage Foundation.  He tells VOA the opposition may seek a more balanced, representative democracy.  But, he says it will also have to work on eliminating "rhetoric."

"Just getting rid of all of the hate rhetoric that was so much a part of the Chavez movement. Chavez, 'if you are with me, you’re ok.  If you’re not with me, you are the lowest, vilest form of life there is.'  This is the polarizing rhetoric," said Walser.

Walser says regardless of who wins the election, the new government will have to deal with a deeply divided country.

"Basically you have a divide between those who are accepting an authoritarian model, which is basically a model of Chavismo, and those who would like to see the restoration of a democratic system, separation of powers," he said.

He says all stratas of society are represented on both sides of the divide.

Farnsworth says the late President Chavez did manage to tap into a "deep vein" of history, hope and aspiration that has run across Latin America for many years.

That could bode well for acting President Maduro.  He served as Chavez's vice president and was named as his provisional successor.

Opposition leader Capriles lost the last presidential election to Chavez.  Capriles called Maduro's inauguration as acting president a "constitutional fraud."

Both Walser and Farnsworth commented on VOA's Encounter program.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Venezuelan Protesters Burn Leaders in Effigy

Hundreds take to streets of Caracas Easter Sunday demanding ‘resurrection of democracy; President Maduro’s image among those burnt
More

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians
More

Audit Finds US Housing Aid Program in Haiti Falls Short

Results show post-earthquake USAID program has delivered only a quarter of planned number of homes at nearly twice the budgeted cost
More

Mourning, Memories in Garcia Marquez's Languid Hometown

Nobel Prize-winning author's early years in Aracataca inspired characters, tales for major novel
More

Powerful Earthquake Rattles Mexico

US Geological Survey says quake measuring 7.5 on Richter scale, was centered in the western state of Guerrero, north of Acapulco beach resort
More

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support
More