Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Venezuelan polls show narrowing race for president

CARACAS, Venezuela — Nicolas Maduro hopes to ride a tide of grief into Venezuela's special presidential election today and win voters' endorsement to succeed the late Hugo Chavez.

That will mean inheriting both a loyal following among the poor and multiple problems left behind by Chavez, troubles that have been harped on by opposition challenger Henrique Capriles.

Although he's still favored, Maduro's early big lead in opinion polls sharply narrowed in the past week as Venezuelans grappled with a litany of woes many blame on Chavez's mismanagement of the economy and infrastructure: chronic power outages, double-digit inflation, food and medicine shortages. Add to that rampant crime — Venezuela has among the world's highest homicide and kidnapping rates.

Maduro, a former union activist with close ties to Cuba's leaders who was Chavez's longtime foreign minister, hinted at feeling overwhelmed during his closing campaign speech to hundreds of thousands of red-shirted faithful Thursday.

"I need your support. This job that Chavez left me is very difficult," said Maduro, who became acting president after Chavez died of cancer March 5. "This business of being president and leader of a revolution is a pain in the neck."

Capriles, a 40-year-old state governor who lost to Chavez in October's regular presidential election, hammered away at the ruling socialists' record of unfulfilled promises as he crisscrossed Venezuela. His campaign libretto included reading aloud a list of unfinished road, bridge and rail projects before asking what goods were scarce on store shelves.

Maduro, 50, hewed to a simple message, a theme of the October presidential campaign: "I am Chavez. We are all Chavez." He promised to expand a myriad of anti-poverty programs created by the man he called the "Jesus Christ of Latin America" and funded by $1 trillion in oil revenues during Chavez's 14-year rule.

His campaign mobilized a state bureaucracy of nearly 2.7 million workers that was built up by Chavez while he cemented a near-monopoly on power, using loyalists in the judiciary to intimidate and diminish the opposition, particularly its broadcast media.

Venezuela’s interim President Nicolas Maduro gives a thumbs-up on Friday after visiting the burial site of Hugo Chavez in Caracas. “This job that Chavez left me is very difficult,” Maduro said, referring to the economic woes.

Associated Press

Venezuela’s interim President Nicolas Maduro gives a thumbs-up on Friday after visiting the burial site of Hugo Chavez in Caracas. “This job that Chavez left me is very difficult,” Maduro said, referring to the economic woes.

Venezuelan polls show narrowing race for president 04/13/13 [Last modified: Sunday, April 14, 2013 12:45am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Evening update: Tropical Storm Harvey forms in Atlantic, second wave follows

    Hurricanes

    UPDATE: At 8 p.m. the National Hurricane Center said a hurricane hunter plane had determined that Tropical Storm Harvey had formed with sustained winds of 40 mph.

    Three tropical waves are expected to strengthen as they move across the Atlantic Ocean. [Courtesy of the National Hurricane Center]
  2. Trump 'beautiful statues' tweets roil Tampa Bay's own Confederate debate

    National

    It started Thursday at 9:07 a.m., as it does so often these days, with a tweet:

    The Memoria in Aeterna Confederate monument stands in front of the old Hillsborough County Courthouse. Hillsborough County Commissioners voted 4-2 last month to move it to a private cemetery in Brandon before voting again this week to put a deadline on a public sector fundraising campaign to pay part of the cost. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Rays waste repeated opportunities in 5-3 loss to Blue Jays

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Rays manager Kevin Cash made a case for urgency before Thursday's game, in both actions and words, making significant changes to the structure of the lineup and sincere comments about time running short.

    Trevor Plouffe of the Rays reacts as he pops out with the bases loaded in the sixth inning. [Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images]
  4. Spanish PM voices solidarity with Barcelona

    World

    BARCELONA, Spain — Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says his country is mourning in solidarity with the city of Barcelona and other cities in Europe that have been hit by deadly extremist attacks.

    An injured person is treated in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 after a white van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists and injuring several people, police said. [Associated Press]
  5. Confederate statue: Why Bucs, Lightning, Rays took a stand

    Bucs

    They didn't want another Charlottesville.

    Marc Rodriguez, a member of the "Florida Fight for $15" organization, stands in protest along with other activists demanding the Confederate  monument be removed from the old Hillsborough County Courthouse in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]