venezuela

Venezuelans vote to choose Chavez successor

by FOXNews.com  |  published on April 15, 2013

Voters who kept Hugo Chavez in office for 14 years decide Sunday whether to elect the devoted lieutenant he chose to carry on the revolution that endeared him to the poor but that many Venezuelans believe is ruining the nation.

Nicolas Maduro sought to ride Chavez’s endorsement to victory with a campaign nearly bereft of promises but freighted with personal attacks that was otherwise little more than an unflagging tribute to the polarizing leader who died of cancer March 5.

The 50-year-old longtime Chavez foreign minister pinned his hopes on the immense loyalty for his boss among millions of poor beneficiaries of a socialist government’s largesse and the heft of a state apparatus that Chavez skillfully consolidated.

The governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela deployed a well-worn, get-out-the-vote machine spearheaded by loyal state employees. It also enjoyed a pervasive state media apparatus as part of a near monopoly on institutional power.

Challenger Henrique Capriles’ aides accused Chavista loyalists in the judiciary of putting them at glaring disadvantage. Prosecutors and state regulators impoverished the campaign and opposition broadcast media by targeting them with unwarranted fines and prosecutions, they said.

Capriles’ main campaign weapon was thus jujutsu: To simply point out “the incompetence of the state,” as he put it to reporters in a news conference Saturday night.

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