Opposition leader Henrique Capriles (pictured) rallied hundreds of thousands of supporters in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas on Sunday, but polls show he is trailing his rival by a wide margin with only one week left before the poll.
Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans rallied in downtown Caracas to hear opposition leader Henrique Capriles speak on Sunday, one week before elections to choose a successor to the late president Hugo Chavez.
But despite the opposition’s show of strength, polls showed Capriles trailing acting President Nicolas Maduro by a wide margin, with time quickly running out.
“Today the streets of Caracas are full of happiness and hope, confirming what will happen next Sunday,” Capriles told supporters gathered the city’s historic Bolivar Avenue. “We’re winning this process.”
Capriles, the 40-year-old governor of the state of Miranda, ran an unsuccessful campaign against Chavez last year. He is predicting a late pro-opposition surge as sympathy wears off after his surprise death.
Opposition supporters marched from different parts of the capital to converge on the avenue, where they displayed the yellow, red and blue colours of Capriles’ campaign.
Around the edges of the rally, groups of red-clad “Chavista”, or pro-government supporters chanted in favour of Maduro.
Both candidates are touring the oil-rich South American country during a lightning, 10-day campaign ahead of the April 14 vote that was triggered by Chavez’s death from cancer on March 5.
Curses and plots
Maduro, who was hand-picked by Chavez to succeed him before his death, also held a huge rally on Sunday in the rural border-state of Apure.
The race took a somewhat surreal turn on Saturday when Maduro said a centuries-old curse would fall on the heads of those who do not vote for him.
At his rallies he frequently refers to Chavez in adoring terms and has promised to continue to the late president’s hardline socialist policies as a sign of enduring loyalty.
“He taught us the supreme value of loyalty. With loyalty, everything is possible. Betrayal only brings defeats and curses,” Maduro said Sunday.
At his event, Maduro again accused the opposition of hatching a plot to assassinate him.
Last month Maduro also accused Washington of planning to kill Capriles and blame it on his government in order to spark unrest before the election.
Capriles has ridiculed Maduro’s claims and likened them to Chavez’s frequent denunciations of “imperialist” assassination plots during his 14-year rule.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)
Date created : 2013-04-08