In Venezuela, tens of thousands of people have turned out to see the two main presidential candidates trade insults at their respective rallies in the closing stages of the country’s election campaign.
Before he died Hugo Chavez passed the baton to his deputy Nicolas Maduro. The acting president has a comfortable lead in the polls.
The left-winger Maduro called his opponent Henrique Capriles ‘the rancid bourgeois’ and he played up his own credentials as a worker, a ‘son of Chavez’ and a revolutionary.
The former bus driver claimed Capriles would scrap popular social programmes, like subsidised food and well-resourced clinics.
They turned out in their thousands for Capriles too to hear him yet again deny that he would do away with the welfare schemes, saying instead he would make them available to every Venezuelan, and not only those who tow the party line.
He has launched scathing attacks on Maduro, calling him a ‘skin-deep revolutionary’ who has betrayed Chavez by only paying lip service to his ideology.
Capriles is promising a Brazilian-style mix of business-friendly policies along with spending on social programmes.
He also said he would cool relations with Chavez-era allies like Syria, Belarus and Iran.
The United States will watch Sunday’s vote with close interest, hoping for a result that will improve the difficult relations of the Chavez years.
Some polls have Capriles trailing by less than 10 per cent and his campaign organisers are predicting a late surge as the emotion that followed the death of Chavez last month fades.