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

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

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.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

UN: Enforced Disappearances Continue Unabated Globally

UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances says more than 43,000 cases from 88 countries still remain to be clarified
More

Hurricane Odile Weakens, Still a Threat to Mexico

Odile could drench Baja California with as much as 46 centimeters of rain by Friday
More

Powerful Hurricane Threatens Mexico's Baja California

US forecasters have downgraded Odile to strong Category 3 storm, with top sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour
More

Hard-hitting Films Tackle Homelessness at Toronto Festival

'Time Out of Mind,' 'Shelter,' and 'Heaven Knows What' all focus on characters struggling with homelessness, addiction on the streets of New York
More

After Tax Reform Triumph, Chile's President Faces Rockier Road

'Honeymoon' may be over for Michelle Bachelet as protests rise and economy, security outlook worsen
More

Mexico: Texas Governor's Border Deployment Politically Motivated

Rick Perry says he is sending up to 1,000 troops to Mexican border to deter criminal activity caused by drug cartels
More