Two Venezuelan teenagers wearing protective headgear and gloves slug it out in a boxing ring set up outdoors in a local neighbourhood in Caracas. They are not mimicking the presidential hopefuls, although at times the verbal blows traded by both candidates have been just as combative.
In fact the tournament – “Boxeo en la Calle” or ‘Boxing in the Street” – is part of a government drive against delinquency and street crime, a big election issue.
But such is the mutual hostility between the rival camps in the run-up to the election that occasionally fighting has broken out between activists. At one rally for Nicolas Maduro, supporters on either side clashed.
“The virulent confrontations that we are observing in this Venezuelan election are reinforced by the absolute incompatibility of the the rival programmes,” says Adolfo Salgueiro, a columnist for ‘El Universal’ newspaper.
Venezuela’s shortest ever election campaign has seen the candidates’ fervour spill over into insults and abuse.
“Only the devil is capable of using power to intimidate a Venezuelan,” cried Henrique Capriles at one of his rallies.
“The imperialism and Venezuela’s decadent parasitic bourgeoisie think that the revolution is coming to an end,” Nicolas Maduro told his supporters.
For the ruling party the cult surrounding Hugo Chavez is the key to success at the polls. The opposition believes the lack of charisma of the former leader’s preferred successor will play in its favour.
Reporting for euronews in Caracas, Pablo Herrera said:
“Whoever emerges victorious at the polls in the next few hours, the consensus here is that awaiting him in Venezuela is a difficult period in which the president-elect will begin to confront important challenges from the very moment the results are known.”