Henrique Capriles, Venezuela's 'Rock Star' With Jewish Roots, Fights Uphill Campaign

Opposition Runs 'Against a Ghost' After Hugo Chavez Death

Henrique Capriles makes campaign speech. He’s drawing big crowds but polls say the annointed successor of strongman Hugo Chavez is ahead in the Venezuelan presidential race.
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Henrique Capriles makes campaign speech. He’s drawing big crowds but polls say the annointed successor of strongman Hugo Chavez is ahead in the Venezuelan presidential race.

By Reuters

Published March 26, 2013.
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One of his taunts - “Nicolas, don’t get dressed up, you’re not going anywhere!” - is a popular chant at opposition rallies.

Maduro, who calls himself an “apostle” of Chavez and names his mentor at every turn during his own events, has tried to turn the scorn back on Capriles.

“For every 10 words, he names me nine times. He’s obsessed,” Maduro told a crowd in western Zulia state. He joked that his rival wakes up thinking about him and urged supporters to learn a new song called the “Nicolas dance” that lampoons Capriles.

HOW TO “BEAT A GHOST”?

Beyond the rhetoric, Capriles is trying to present a radically different vision of government to the Chavez-style socialism that Maduro vows to continue.

A centrist politician who admires Brazil’s model of free-market economics with strong welfare policies, Capriles vows to end social polarization and economic nationalizations while keeping the best of Chavez’s anti-poverty projects.

He wants to stop preferential alliances with Venezuela’s most controversial foreign friends of the Chavez era - Iran, Belarus, Syria and Cuba for example - in favor of improving ties with Latin American neighbors and “democratic” nations.

In Maturin, Capriles was preceded on stage by various local residents who presented complaints that ranged from lack of toilet paper in the shops to unfair distribution of oil revenue.

As well as attacking Maduro, that is the opposition’s second main campaign offensive: presenting themselves as the only force with the will to tackle Venezuelans’ myriad daily problems.

“What’s the point of having the biggest oil reserves in the world if people still live in homes with mud floors,” Capriles told locals in Maturin, where many work in the oil industry.


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