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Insults and Promises in Venezuelan Presidential Campaign as Vote Draws Near

Mérida, 8th April 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – With six days left until voting, the campaign to choose late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s successor has been filled with insults and promises.

The two main candidates, leftist Nicolas Maduro and conservative Henrique Capriles, have been crossing at least two states per day, in order to cover the country in a short campaign convoked after Chavez’s death last month.

The candidate of the Bolivarian revolution, Nicolas Maduro, declared at a campaign event yesterday that his aim is to consolidate Hugo Chavez’s project. “Make the dreams of a giant reality. That’s the only thing I want to do,” he said.

Speaking to a mass of supporters at a campaign rally in Sucre state today, he further declared “We are defending the right of everyone, of the whole nation, to a future”.

Maduro has accompanied such declarations with pledges to continue expanding the government’s popular social programs, while announcing investments in housing, infrastructure and agricultural production.

The interim president and former bus driver also argued today that he is on course to win on 14 April, with polls giving him a 10 – 20 point lead over his rival.

However, Maduro asked voters not to “fall into the trap of triumphalism” and argued that the size of his prospective victory will be important for the political stability of the country. “The greater the difference [in victory margin], the more peace, calm and economic prosperity there will be”, he said.

Meanwhile, Maduro heavily criticised his opponent as being out of touch with the majority of Venezuelans.

Referring to Capriles, he rhetorically asked his supporters, “Do you want a member of the bourgeoisie in Miraflores [the presidential palace]? Do you want to have a rancid capitalist? Do you want to have an anti-Chavez president? Do you want to have a president who hates the people?”

Maduro’s campaign events have also featured emotional remembrances of and tributes to the legacy of Hugo Chavez. At a campaign rally yesterday, Maduro released two birds given to him by a supporter, who stood beside him on stage.

The supporter, Nubia Alfonzo, said she had given Nicolas Maduro the birds so that “they can fly away free…like Chavez did”.

Capriles in Caracas

Yesterday opposition candidate Henrique Capriles spoke at a large rally in Caracas, where he made several promises to followers, as well as attacking Maduro and the government.

The candidate of the Democratic Unity (MUD) coalition said that his aim is a “Venezuela for all” where citizens “eat well”, “sleep calmly” and “have money in their pocket[s]”.

He also devoted a large part of his speech to criticising his opponent, in a campaign where both candidates have insulted each other freely. Capriles said that Maduro is “lazy” and had “never worked”. He then called Maduro  “Satan” and accused him of “using power to intimidate the people”.

The Miranda state governor, who lost to Hugo Chavez in the October presidential elections 44% – 55%, also argued that the Venezuelan government is “full of corruption, evil and hate for the people”.

Despite polling evidence, Capriles claimed that he is headed for electoral triumph. “Twenty days ago, people thought this was impossible…on 14 April we are going to do justice in this country,” he declared.

Campaigning will officially continue until Thursday, after which the country will prepare for Sunday’s vote.

Published on Apr 8th 2013 at 9.00pm