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.
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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Guatemala President Resigns Amid Corruption Probe

Spokesman says Perez Molina submitted his resignation after a judge issued an order to detain him in a customs fraud case, which already has led to the jailing of his vice president and the resignation of some Cabinet ministers
More

Guatemalan President Resigns Over Corruption Scandal

Otto Perez Molina submitted his resignation at midnight after a judge issued an order to have him detained for questioning
More

Video US Men's Soccer Team Eyeing Matches Against Peru, Brazil

The team is hoping to bounce back from a disappointing result in the Gold Cup, when Jamaica upset the US 2-1 in the semifinals
More

Video Scientists Predict Wet Winter in Drought-stricken US West

Strong El Nino could bring relief to dry areas, but punishing droughts to other regions around the globe
More

Guatemala Congress Opens Door for Prosecution of President

With 132 of 158 lawmakers approving a measure to strip immunity, prosecutors now can file criminal charges against Perez Molina just like any other citizen
More

Rio Olympics Official: Water Will Be Clean for Games

Recent report says waters so contaminated with bacteria and viruses from human sewage that athletes could become ill
More