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

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    More Americas News

    In Colombia, Abortion Is Legal but Denied to Many Women, Advocates Say

    Colombia, a nation of 48 million people, allows abortion in cases of rape, incest, fetal malformation, if the fetus is at risk and if the health, both physical and mental, of the mother is at risk

    Colombia Says 2 More Journalists Missing in Rough Area

    Journalists missing in region where security forces are already carrying out massive search for prominent Spanish journalist, President Juan Manuel Santos said Tuesday

    Cuba to Legalize Small, Medium-sized Private Businesses

    Move could significantly expand space allowed for private enterprise in one of world's last communist countries

    Coca Cola to Halt Some Production in Venezuela

    Sugar shortages and a deep recession have been forcing production shutdowns across the country

    Recording Allegedly Shows Minister Plotting Against Brazil's Rousseff

    Planning Minister Romero Jucá, who will step down temporarily, denies allegation, says words in published transcript of tape were taken out of context

    Mercury Poisoning Prompts Peru to Declare State of Emergency in Amazon

    People, rivers and fish poisoned; government blames illegal gold mining