Latin America & Caribbean

Venezuela election: Capriles supporters in Caracas march

Henrique Capriles at Caracas march
Image caption Capriles has vowed to revamp the Venezuelan economy and tackle crime

Venezuelan opposition candidate Henrique Capriles has called on voters to rid the country of a government that has "lost its way".

"The government is now riddled with corruption, hatred and evil," he told tens of thousands of his supporters who marched through the streets of Caracas.

Venezuelans will go to the polls on 14 April to choose a successor to the late president, Hugo Chavez.

He died last month after 14 years in office.

Mr Capriles, a 40-year-old lawyer and politician, says he wants to encourage free-market economies and tackle crime, without neglecting strong social policies.

He is very critical of Mr Chavez's left-wing policies and says he is inspired by the Brazilian model of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, whose government managed to achieve economic growth and lift millions of people out of poverty.

"We have a nation which is calling for solutions to its problems and a government that has lost its way," Mr Capriles told supporters at a rally in the capital.

Opinion polls say the government's candidate - acting President Nicolas Maduro - has a strong lead over his rival.

But Mr Capriles called on all Venezuelans to go to the polls next Sunday and do their civic duty. He said Mr Maduro's candidacy had "crashed".

Chavez's legacy

Image caption Maduro was appointed by Chavez as his preferred successor

Mr Maduro has visited the states of Apure, near the Colombian border, and Guarico, in Central Venezuela.

As he arrived in Guarico, he said the Venezuelan people and the armed forces would make sure there was continuity to the legacy of Hugo Chavez.

The country needs to be protected, said Mr Maduro, and "as a son of Chavez I will make sure it is from 15 April, when I become president of Venezuela".

During a rally in Amazonas state on Saturday, Mr Maduro put a curse on those not voting for him next Sunday.

He likened his main rival candidate, Henrique Capriles, to Spanish conquerors fighting indigenous people in the 16th Century.

"If anyone among the people votes against Nicolas Maduro, he is voting against himself, and the curse of Maracapana is falling on him," he said.

He was referring to a 16th Century battle when Spanish colonial forces inflicted a decisive defeat on indigenous fighters.

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