As Venezuela prepares for 14 April elections – the first presidential poll without Hugo Chavez’s name on the ballot in almost two decades – the choice for voters appears as stark and as divisive as ever, the BBC’s Will Grant in Caracas reports. While he was alive, very few committed supporters of late President Hugo Chavez would ever openly criticise him. They had no time for opposition arguments about the government’s control of the media and the judiciary, and rejected the idea that Venezuela was living under a dictatorship. Rather, when there were complaints they tended to be over more immediate quality-of-life issues: infrequent rubbish collections or a lack of local sporting facilities. In pro-Chavez neighbourhoods – like 23 de Enero in the capital, Caracas – such problems were easily solved with oil money.
Shouting over the noise of a gleaming-new government rubbish truck as it crushes the mountains of waste outside her building, local co-operative leader Judith Vegas explains how she has enjoyed a direct line to the Chavez government for years.
She shows us around a brand new baseball ground and takes us on the shiny lifts which the socialist administration installed in the crumbling 1950s housing blocs.
In her state-owned apartment, Judith cannot hold back her tears when talking about Hugo Chavez.
“It hurts me what’s happening,” she says between sobs. “I loved him and everything he did for us.”
For Judith, the most fitting tribute to the late socialist leader is a vote for his chosen successor, Nicolas Maduro, in next month’s election.
“We’ll love Maduro, too. The absence of Chavez won’t mean that things will stop here. No. Chavez is inside all of us.”
But her support for Mr Maduro isn’t completely unconditional.
“It’s not that we don’t trust him but he must follow the lines which Chavez left down to the letter so that this revolution can continue.
Henrique Capriles (r) is taking on the poll favourite, Nicolas Maduro
“If he fails to do so, he will come up against the people on 14 April,” she warns, before adding brightly: “But I’m sure he won’t.”
Full Article: BBC News – Venezuela readies for key post-Chavez election.