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article imageMaduro says Chavez came to him as a bird and blessed his campaign

By Eko Armunanto     Apr 11, 2013 in World
Most opinion polls give the acting President Nicolas Maduro a strong lead for Sunday's presidential election thanks to Chavez's endorsement and the surge of grief and sympathy over his death from cancer last month.
Venezuela is considered a part of South America, but in terms of culture it is a Caribbean nation. Therefore, extraordinary events can be expected when it comes to elections. The Guardian says the voters' choice of a successor to Hugo Chavez looks set to be just as strongly influenced by a political ghost and a campaign machine. Polls suggest Chavez's political heir, Nicolas Maduro, is on course for a double-digit victory that would keep the ruling party in control of the world's biggest oil reserves and a country of 29 million people.
"Maduro was hardly known to Venezuelans even last year. His intrinsic value was low and he wasn't seen as a leader. His possibility of winning is tied to him being viewed as a vehicle for Chavez. People are not voting for him per se, but for Chavez through him," Luis Vicente Leon, director of Datanalisis, told The Guardian.
"I was at Nicolas Maduro's opening campaign rally in Barinas, where the ruling Socialist party candidate left many in the audience with their mouths wide open. Maduro explained that a few hours earlier the spirit of deceased President Hugo Chavez had appeared before him in the form of a bird that flew into the chapel where he was praying for wisdom and strength," says Al Jazeera's Buenos Aires reporter Lucia Newman.
"Do you want one of the rancid bourgeois to win?," Maduro shouted at one of his closing rallies. "Or do you want a worker, a son of Chavez, a patriot and a revolutionary? You decide!," he shouted again. Waving posters of his late boss, the crowd sang back the campaign slogan: "Chavez, I swear to you, I'll vote for Maduro!"
ABC News' reporter says that among those in the crowd was Juan Roman, a staunch Chavez supporter, who like all of the people in Barinas and most of Venezuela, is hit by weekly and sometimes daily power blackouts. According to Roman, Chavez and Maduro have no fault in his daily struggle with electricity. "The Venezuelan opposition and the capitalists in the U.S. are trying to sabotage our energy installations so they can destroy this socialist movement. We won't let them do that," Roman said.
The Venezuelan government has long blamed the country's opposition and the United States for plotting to destabilize the country by disrupting the nation's hydroelectric power system. And along with crime and food shortages, electricity has become one of the most widely discussed issues in the days prior to Venezuela's presidential election, which takes place on April 14.
"At stake is control of the world's biggest crude oil reserves, economic aid to a host of left-leaning governments around Latin America, and the legacy of Chavismo socialism," Reuters' reporter Daniel Wallis reported from Caracas. At each of his campaign events, Maduro has played a video of Chavez giving him his blessing in an emotional last speech to the OPEC nation of 29 million people before he succumbed to cancer on March 5.
Maduro's rival Capriles has drawn blood with scathing attacks on Maduro and others whom he denounces as skin-deep revolutionaries. He accuses them of betraying Chavez's legacy by filling their pockets while paying only lip service to his ideology. Maduro, meanwhile, paints his rival as a pampered rich kid who represents a wealthy and venal Venezuelan elite - and their imperial financial backers in Washington.
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