Venezuela opposition rallies despite dismal expectations
CARACAS — A general expectation that Hugo Chavez's hand-picked successor will win next weekend's presidential election didn't dim the spirits of more than 100,000 backers of challenger Henrique Capriles, who jammed the capital's center on Sunday.
Most of the people who converged by foot in the city center on a hot, sunny afternoon tried to shrug off forecasts of victory for Nicolas Maduro, who was sworn in as acting president when Hugo Chavez died March 5 following a long battle with cancer.
Capriles said the big turnout in the capital was evidence that he'd win at the ballot box on Sunday.
“Today the streets of Caracas were filled with happiness, today the streets of Caracas were filled with hope, today the streets of Caracas confirm what's going to happen,” Capriles said.
Chavez had defeated Capriles in October, but by the slimmest margin of his 14-year tenure as president.
Maduro, who rose from bus driver and union organizer to foreign minister under Chavez, is expected to benefit from an emotional outpouring of solidarity among Chavistas who have benefited from the generous social welfare state he created under the socialist banner.
But many critics contend that Maduro has been saddled with a fiscal hangover because of heavy Chavez spending before October's vote.
Jesus Barroso, a 52-year-old retiree, said he believes Maduro will win handily next Sunday. But he predicted Maduro would not be able complete the six-year term because economic and social woes would prompt Venezuelans to remove him through a recall.
“I don't think he'll last very long in the presidency,” Barroso said.
Supporters of Capriles chanted anti-government slogans and waved red, yellow and blue Venezuelan flags as they converged on a main avenue in downtown Caracas.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.