On 2 April election campaigning formally began, and on 3 April Nicolas Maduro visited Merida state. Crowds filled the central city bridge, equalling crowd sizes when Hugo Chavez spoke in Merida in September in the lead-up to last year’s elections.
“The 14 April elections are really important because there we will ratify that the people agree with the revolutionary process and with democracy,” Jose Angel and Aurea Marcia, communal council representatives, told Venezuelanalysis.com at the concentration.
“We’ve recovered our dignity thanks to the revolution and to Chavez. We are waking up and creating the Venezuela that we want. These elections will decide the future of Venezuela. Those people who sabotaged Venezuela won’t return,” said Ramon Garcia, of the Bolivarian Students Organisation, Tulio Febres Cordero municipality, Merida.
Liz Valero, a worker at a public institution stressed that a “person who changed so many things has died, we need to see what will happen now, we need to send a message that the revolution will go on”.
Maduro was due to speak at 4pm, but due to a rally earlier in the day in San Cristobal lasting for longer than planned, he didn’t speak in Merida until 7pm. Crowds, squashed near the front, with some people fainting from the heat, waited patiently, sang, danced, chanted, and sang some more.
Maduro spoke of the national Socialist Plan 2013-2019, of specific projects for Merida, including reopening the airport, reopening the Teleferico in September, and building student residencies. He announced a nationwide raffle to raise funds for the PSUV campaign, with a microbus as first prize. He also brought local and national artists and sports players on to the stage, and asked Merida’s governor to form a committee with local cultural workers, to combat crime.
Since Wednesday, Maduro has spoken at huge rallies in Cojedes, Carabobo, Yaracuy, and Aragua.