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Monday, September 17, 2012

Some general pros and cons in the Venezuela election

The two candidates for president of Venezuela are remarkably different, and offer voters a stark choice, as clear and distinct as that between Obama and Romney in the USA. Most polls put the incumbent ahead, with the challenger closing slowly.

 President Hugo Chavez is a military man turned socialist, comes from the working and poorer classes, speaks for those who have not had power until recently, and has promised to bring about a revolution that changes Venezuelan institutions forever. He is charismatic, verbose, rude at times and nationalistic, and is not afraid to offend or attack his opponents, either inside the country or in Washington D.C. He has little respect for the private media, which he believes is in the pocket of corporate interests, and is unabashedly anti-Washington.

 Challenger Henrique Capriles is younger, comes from a privileged family background, is less radical and less ideological. He has promised not to return Venezuela to the have/have not reality pre-Chavez, and to continue social programs that have benefited the poor. He criticizes Chavez for his disdain of his opponents, and the government for its corruption. His close connections with big business and the traditional oligarchy is probably his most significant disadvantage in a country where half the population is in poverty and strongly supports Chavez and his wealth redistribution efforts. A recent scandal inside his campaign involving an illicit campaign "contribution" has not helped Capriles.

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