Venezuela’s acting President Nicolas Maduro will end his campaign today ahead of the April 14 election, calling up the support of Argentine soccer player Diego Maradona at a mass rally in Caracas.
The man Hugo Chavez named as his heir shortly before his death from cancer March 5 has already addressed a large crowd in the western state of Zulia before traveling back to the capital. Opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski, who lost to Chavez by 11 percentage points in an election last October, is due to close his campaign in the western city of Barquisimeto, in Lara state.
Maduro, a former bus driver and union leader who served as Chavez’s foreign minister for six years, is campaigning on a pledge to fulfill Chavez’s desire to cement his “21st century revolution” in South America’s largest oil producer. He had 55 percent against 45 percent for Capriles in a simulated vote of 1,300 people carried out April 1-5, according to a Datanalisis. The Caracas-based pollster’s survey had a margin of error of 2.6 percent. In a March 11-13 Datanalisis poll Maduro led by 14 percentage points.
“If you ask me what I’m going to do if I win, here it is,” Maduro said today in an interview aired on state television, pointing at a pamphlet Chavez presented as his government manifesto in October’s election. “I’m going to carry out Hugo Chavez’s legacy.”
Maduro’s says his final rally will include Maradona. The man named by the International Federation of Association Football as Player of the 20th Century alongside Brazil’s Pele, was a regular visitor to Caracas during Chavez’s tenure. At the 2005 Summit of the Americas held in Mar del Plata, Argentina, Maradona persuaded Chavez to join 30,000 protesters who burned an effigy of former U.S. President George W. Bush in objection to his proposal for free-trade policies in the region.
Capriles’s last act of the campaign will take place in the closely contested western state of Lara. He has criticized the government’s handling of the economy and corruption while saying he won’t eliminate social programs for the poor.
“I’m not going to eliminate anything that’s beneficial to the people,” Capriles said today in comments broadcast on Globovision. “What I am going to eliminate is the corruption of this little group of these plugged in to the system.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Charlie Devereux in Caracas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andre Soliani at email@example.com.