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Chavez's shadow looms over Sunday presidential vote in Venezuela

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By The Associated Press
Saturday, April 13, 2013, 7:09 p.m.
 

CARACAS — Nicolas Maduro has been hoping to ride a tide of grief into Venezuela's special presidential election on Sunday 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.

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 myriad anti-poverty programs established 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.

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