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Venezuela elections news

This is a QC news update

October 7, 2012

– Hugo Chavez loyalists blew bugles in a wake up call for voters on Sunday as the Venezuelan leader faced the biggest electoral challenge yet to his socialist rule from a young rival tapping into discontent over crime and cronyism.

Henrique Capriles, a centrist state governor, edged toward the still-popular Chavez in final polls thanks to a vigorous campaign that united the opposition and made him its best chance of ending the president’s 14-year tenure.

Chavez has used record oil revenue to support ideological allies around the world while preaching a fiercely anti-American line, so the election is being watched eagerly from the United States to Belarus and Iran.

Queues formed at some polling centers long before they opened, and despite a few delays voting was going smoothly.

“The battle has started!” the flamboyant former soldier wrote in an early morning rallying cry on Twitter. “Today we will write another chapter in history.”

Chavez loyalists in poor neighborhoods, where he draws his most fervent following, blew bugles and trumpets in the predawn wake-up call. In the center of Caracas, some red-clad fans shouted “Long live Chavez!” from the back of trucks.

Chavez, 58, staged a remarkable comeback from cancer this year. But he could not match the energy of past campaigns – or the pace set by his 40-year-old basketball-loving opponent.

“Today we decide the future of our Venezuela,” Capriles said on Twitter. “Today we are millions of Davids! God will be our guide,” he added, referring to his depiction of the vote as the biblical underdog’s battle against Goliath.

Capriles had prepared for the election by hiking a mountain trail on the edge of Caracas on Saturday, donning sports gear and mirrored sunglasses and posing for pictures with supporters.

Opposition supporters had banged pots and pans in an overnight protest against the president in parts of the capital.

“Today I’m doing my bit to build a new Venezuela,” said Francesca Pipoli, 26, walking to vote with two girlfriends in the city’s wealthy Sebucan district. “Capriles for president!” all three sang in the street. “Henrique, marry me!” said one.

NO FORMAL MONITORS

Most well-known pollsters put Chavez in front. But two have Capriles just ahead, and his numbers have crept up in others.

There is a risk of violence if the result is contested. There are no formal international observers, but a delegation from the UNASUR group of South American nations, led by an Argentine politician, is in Venezuela to “accompany” the vote.

Local groups will be monitoring and both sides say they trust the electronic, fingerprint vote system. The opposition says it will have witnesses at all of the 13,810 polling centers, from tiny Amazon villages to tough Caracas slums.

In a politically polarized country where firearms are common and the murder rate is one of the highest in the world, tensions have risen alongside weeks of tough campaign rhetoric, and both camps are vowing to “defend” their votes.

Chavez accuses the opposition of plotting violence and planning to “reject the people’s triumph” when he wins, but says that effort will be defeated. Some opposition activists fear he could refuse to step down if the result goes against him.

Victory for Capriles would remove the most vocal critic of the United States in Latin America, and could lead to new deals for oil companies in an OPEC nation that pumps about 3 million barrels a day and boasts the world’s biggest crude reserves.

CARACAS, Venezuela —Ocotober 1, 2012. News update

AP–The brother of a truck driver killed in a shooting during a campaign caravan called for justice on Monday, saying in an interview that his brother was a committed opposition activist who took time off work to campaign ahead of Venezuela’s presidential election.

Jason Valero was one of two supporters of presidential candidate Henrique Capriles slain when gunfire erupted on Saturday in western Barinas state.

His younger brother, Ramon Valero, said the 32-year-old had gotten out of his vehicle to try to talk with supporters of President Hugo Chavez who were blocking the road. Then shots rang out and his brother was killed.

Authorities say one suspect has been arrested. Valero called for justice and said his brother, in his words, “died fighting for a change.”…(Reuters)

The Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela —

Liliana Carias used to hope President Hugo Chavez would change her life. Not anymore.

She’s been living for years in a dirt-floor shack without running water, and after voting for Chavez in the last three presidential elections, the single mother of four said she’s tired of waiting for help.

She was among thousands of people who cheered for the president’s rival recently in the serpentine streets of Caracas’ Petare slum, which used to be a bastion of support for Chavez. She held out a handwritten letter addressed to “My future President Henrique Capriles,” the opposition challenger, writing that her salary as a supermarket cashier was no longer enough to support her family and she was worried her landlord would evict them.

“We need change,” Carias said as the drum-beating caravan paraded by. “I thought it would come with Chavez but I’m very disappointed. He promised us everything but nothing changed. I still don’t have running water, sewer or electricity.”

From single mothers to construction workers, some Chavez supporters have been turning away from the president to consider new leadership. They’ve become key to the Oct. 7 presidential vote and Capriles’ strategy.

Surveys don’t indicate exactly which “Chavistas” are becoming “Caprilistas,” but the group appears to include working-class and lower-middle-class Venezuelans. Polls also reveal weariness over a growing yet troubled economy, 18 percent inflation and one of the world’s highest murder rates.

Despite billions of dollars in government spending on social programs, solutions to problems such as the country’s severe housing shortage have been elusive. Slums have grown during Chavez’s presidency, and the government’s construction of new housing projects hasn’t kept up with the legions of poor people like Carias who have applied for apartments and ended up waiting for years.

Now Chavez is spending heavily building apartments and paying out more benefits to poor families. But some in the working class still complain that they’re being bypassed and have lost faith in the government’s promises.

Chavez held a 10-point lead over Capriles in a survey released this week by the Venezuelan polling firm Datanalisis. But the 49 percent who said they intend to vote for Chavez was dramatically lower than the 63 percent who re-elected him in 2006. The latest poll said 11 percent of those interviewed didn’t reveal a preference.

A survey by the Venezuelan polling firm Consultores 21 put the two candidates roughly even, with 46.5 percent saying they would vote for Capriles and nearly 46 percent saying they would vote for Chavez.

The poll questioned 1,500 people Sept. 7-18 and had an error margin of 3 percentage points. It also included a second question, in which people were asked to mark their choice in secret, in case they didn’t want to reveal their preference to the pollster. Under that method, Capriles had almost 49 percent and Chavez just under 46 percent.

Saul Cabrera, the polling company’s vice president, said Thursday that the results show a “technical tie.” He said the poll was paid for a Venezuelan business, but he declined to identify it.

Analysts say a strong turnout by disenchanted ex-Chavistas could help tip the balance in favor of the challenger….

 

 

 

 

 

 

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