News / Americas

    Venezuelan Opposition Chief Mocks Chavez Heir Ahead of Vote

    Henrique Capriles arrives for a press conference in Caracas, Venezuela, on March 10, 2013, to announce he will run in elections to replace late President Hugo Chavez.
    Henrique Capriles arrives for a press conference in Caracas, Venezuela, on March 10, 2013, to announce he will run in elections to replace late President Hugo Chavez.
    Reuters
    Fighting an uphill battle in Venezuela's election, opposition leader Henrique Capriles scoffs at acting president and rival Nicolas Maduro as a non-entity riding on the memory of Hugo Chavez to hide his own incompetence.
        
    In an interview on his campaign bus on Tuesday, Capriles also accused the late president's chosen heir Maduro of trying to distract voters from real problems with wild claims including a U.S.-based plot to kill the opposition candidate.

    "Nicolas does not even reach the ankle of President Chavez,'' Capriles told Reuters, comparing his battle for the upcoming April 14 vote with last year's presidential poll against Chavez. "Nicolas' biggest weakness is that it seems he doesn't even
    exist, the only thing you see in the campaign is the image of the president [Chavez]... Nicolas is just not up to it.''
      
    With sympathy over Chavez's death from cancer this month galvanizing government supporters, Maduro, 50, a former bus driver and long-time socialist stalwart, is favorite to win leadership of the South American OPEC nation next month.
      
    Capriles, 40, is determined to stop that by both attacking Maduro's personal capacity and highlighting the plethora of grassroots problems that irritate Venezuelans, ranging from potholes and crime to power cuts and corruption.
      
    The Miranda state governor, a centrist politician who admires Brazil's free-market economics with strong welfare policies, lost to Chavez last year by 11 percentage points. But his showing then was the strongest against Chavez during the late president's 14-year socialist rule.

    "I was boxing against Cassius Clay! Now I'm facing another boxer, it's a different game,'' said Capriles, changing out of a sweat-soaked shirt as his bus wound its way through the crowd after a rambunctious rally in southern Ciudad Bolivar. "I'd have liked to go back up against the same athlete. Sadly, by God's decision, the president died.''

    Maduro and other government officials accuse Capriles of dishonoring Chavez's memory and offending his family with accusations that they lied over the details of his final days.

    A top strategist on Maduro's team forecast this week that Chavez supporters will punish Capriles for his anti-government barbs and that next month's vote will likely end up in a bigger win for the socialists than last year.

     Asked about Maduro's accusation that two former U.S. officials plotted to assassinate Capriles, the opposition leader first reeled off a litany of problems facing Venezuelans, from violent crime and shortages of products to rising prices and shoddy roads.

    "Nicolas has been in government for 100 days. They look like the worst 100 days of these 14 years,'' he said in a typical put-down of his rival, using his first name. "And what does he talk about? A plot. He wants us to talk about [former U.S. official Otto] Reich, and those things. He doesn't want us to talk about what's important on the street for Venezuelans. That's why I don't pay those claims any attention, they are smokescreens.''
        
    Capriles said that Maduro, who now describes himself as an "apostle'' of Chavez and often addresses the nation alongside images of his late boss, was part of a discredited group whom even 'Chavista' voters would punish at the presidential poll.
     
    Supporters seldom held Chavez personally responsible for their daily problems, often blaming senior officials instead.

    "For followers of the president, it was the ministers who were the corrupt, inefficient, incompetent ones who did all the damage. Well, that's the group wanting to govern,'' Capriles added in the first interview with foreign media of his campaign.
     
    Two opinion polls published this week gave Maduro a lead of more than 14 percentage points.
      
    Most analysts believe Capriles faces a near-impossible task to win, especially given the state's superior campaign resources, the popularity of its many social welfare programs, and the high number of 'Chavistas' in most state institutions.
     
    "The electoral conditions, the abuses, are worse than before,'' Capriles said, accusing Maduro of acting unconstitutionally by not leaving office while he campaigns. "

    Our struggle is more difficult but more heroic, more challenging ... It's a divine, spiritual struggle. I believe God gave us an opportunity to unite the country.'' 

    Capriles, a devout Catholic, always wears a crucifix.

    The government counters Capriles' depiction of the election as a David vs Goliath fight with its own version - that he is in fact the representative of Venezuela's moneyed, right-wing elite in league with U.S. and other Western "imperialist'' interests.

    Hoarse but pumped during frenetic campaigning in the vast and mineral-rich southern state of Bolivar, Capriles said there was a limit to how much the emotion over Chavez's death would help Maduro at the ballot box.

    "Chavez was Chavez. Nicolas is not Chavez. And the president's supporters are realizing that. They don't like Nicolas,'' Capriles said. "I have to fight and try to win. There is a real possibilityof winning ... My fight is with the liars and the corrupt ones.''
       
    If he wins, Capriles promises to roll back gradually the Chavez-era socialist economic measures, including currency controls and nationalizations that cowed the private sector.

    "If I win, I'm sure the profile of Venezuelan debt will improve a lot. Loans will be less costly. I have to reconstruct the economy, generate confidence,'' he said. "[Finance Minister Jorge] Giordani is unable to recognize his failure. His economics are from another century. He should go on a course in Brazil, Chile, Peru, or Mexico. Send him to China for a month so they can train him.''

    You May Like

    Turkey, West in Standoff Over Syrian Refugees

    Turkish government refuses to admit refugees, the first in a wave of civilians fleeing offensive by Assad regime in northern Aleppo countryside

    Jailed American Testifies About Islamist Involvement in Mumbai Attacks

    David Headley testifies via video link that Pakistan-based Islamic terror group made two failed attempts to mount strikes in Mumbai in months prior to coordinated assault

    These Are the 10 Smartest US States

    A new report breaks down the nation's best and brightest

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
    March 20, 2013 4:13 PM
    Capriles is very correct on the economic issues; Maduro is using Cubanomics, an economic method based on the exploitation/living off/begging for massive foreign help, before it was the USSR, now the Cuban gvmt lives from being a parasite on the back of the Venezuelan nation; and even with all the help from Venezuela, Cuba is continuing in a downward spiral, from which it can't recover, unless it fully restructures its economic and political systems. The Cuban people have less and less, and more and more Cubans are having to emigrate, not a good situation; not an economic model Venezuela should support, adopt, nor in any way should Venezuela emulate it.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.

    More Americas News

    USOC: US Athletes Should Stay Home if Worried About Zika Virus

    United States Olympic Committee tells US sports federations that athletes and staff concerned for their health over Zika virus should consider not going to Rio 2016 Olympic Games

    Haiti's President Leaves Office Without a Successor

    Embattled Haitian President Michel Martelly left office Sunday as required by Haiti's constitution, ending his 5-year term with no one elected to replace him

    'Revenant's Inarritu wins top Directors Guild Prize

    Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's win, with only weeks to go before Academy Awards on February 28, race is still as wide open as ever

    Colombia: 3,100 Known Zika Cases in Pregnant Women

    But Santos says in televised address in his country that there's still no evidence definitively linking the virus to microcephaly in newborns

    Pope to OK Use of Indigenous Languages for Mass in Mexico

    Move before trip to the country next week is symbolic gestures in defense of Indian rights

    Ecuador Sacks Military Top Brass Over Questioned Land Deal

    Armed Forces apparently sold 66 lots to Environment Ministry for $48 million, but report from Attorney General's office says they were worth only $7 million