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.
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

Pakistan Among Developing Countries Hit Hard by Global Warming

Pakistani officials hope developed nations agree to scale back emissions, offer help in dealing with climate change

Video Speed, Social Media Shape Counterterrorism Probes

Speed is critical in effort to prevent subsequent attacks; demographics of extremists lend themselves to communicating, establishing profiles on digital platforms

Islamic State Oil Trade Seduces Friends, Foes Alike

Terrorist group rakes in up to $500 million a year in sales to customers such as Syrian government, US-supported rebels and Turkey

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigationsi
Katherine Gypson
December 01, 2015 10:06 PM
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigations

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Russia Marks World AIDS Day With Grim News

While HIV infection rates have steadied or even declined in many European countries, the caseload has grown rapidly in Russia, as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow. Over half of the new infections were transmitted through injection drug use.

Video Pakistan Hit Hard by Global Warming

As world leaders meet in Paris to craft a new global agreement aimed at cutting climate-changing greenhouse-gas emissions, many developing countries are watching closely for the final results. While most developing nations contribute much less to global warming than developed countries, they often feel the effects to a disproportionate degree. As Saud Zafar reports from Karachi, one such nation is Pakistan. Aisha Khalid narrates his report.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Cuba Reimposes Limits on Doctors' Departures From Country

Move is Havana's response to US program that it sees as bid to drain Cuba of doctors, nurses, other specialists working in third countries

Cash Squeeze Maims Venezuela's Pre-election Food Imports

Hit by recession and slump in oil prices, crunch hurts Pres. Maduro's bid to fill shelves with imported meat, dairy products and medicines before Dec. 6 vote

Argentina's Ex-President Menem Sentenced for Embezzlement

Menem is currently a senator representing La Rioja province where he was born, that status as a lawmaker protects him from being imprisoned

Colombia Declines Rebel Extradition to US Amid FARC Peace Talks

Move seen as a goodwill gesture as part of peace negotiations that are approaching a March deadline

Temple Passageway May Lead to Aztec Ruler's Tomb, Experts Say

Aztecs are thought to have cremated leaders' bodies but burial site hasn't been found, so discovery at Mexico City's Templo Mayor ruin could prove significant

US-Cuba Talks Underway; Focus on Migrants, Illegal Drugs

Officials from both countries are meeting in Washington as part of efforts to normalize bilateral relations which had been frozen for half a century