Venezuela’s presidential contenders have held huge rallies as their campaigns draw to a close ahead of Sunday’s election.
For the first time in 14 years he is absent, but Hugo Chavez is the name on everyone’s lips.
The late leader’s choice to succeed him, the acting President Nicolas Maduro, says he is the sole guarantor of the socialist revolution.
“Do you have any doubts on whether we are going to win?” he asked thousands of red-shirted supporters in Caracas.
“No!” they replied in unison.
“Are you sure we are going to win?”
“Yes!” they roared.
“Me too. I’m sure, and I’m ready to be your president for the next 6 years,” said Maduro.
Ten points behind in the polls but gaining, opposition candidate Henrique Capriles says he wants more free-market economics without dismantling the Chavez social programmes.
He concentrated on Venezuela’s soaring crime rate at a rally in the north.
“We’ve been submitted these past years to terrible violence,” he said. “I ask you, for the love of God, vote on Sunday to defeat violence,” he said.
The rhetoric in the campaign has been heated and personal. Maduro has made derogatory insinuations about his rival’s sexual orientation. Capriles has dubbed Maduro a “bull-chicken”.
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