What next for Venezuela? Maduro vs Capriles

With the death of Hugo Chavez, Venezuela is enveloped in national mourning and millions are lining the streets in Caracas to see his coffin. Left Foot Forward has taken a look at those aiming to succeed the charismatic commandante.

With the death of Hugo Chavez, Venezuela is enveloped in national mourning and millions are lining the streets in Caracas to see him through his glass lid coffin.

But with elections likely in the wake of his Chavez’s passing on Tuesday, the country will have to find a successor, and quickly.

The contenders

Currently, the odds are in favour of Nicolas Maduro, Chavez’ chosen successor and the country’s interim leader.

Popular within the PSUV and with the public at large with his humble beginnings as a bus driver and trade unionist,  Maduro worked his way up the ranks of the PSUV and into Hugo Chavez’ cabinet in 2006, becoming Vice President a few months before Chavez took his final trip to Cuba for cancer treatment.

Maduro also has the backing of the army – in spite of the country’s constitution declaring defence ministers remain impartial, Admiral Diego Molero pledged the military’s total support for Maduro minutes after Chavez death was announced, increasing fears that if elected Maduro’s rule could be as authoritarian as his predecessor’s.

Nevertheless, on Thursday crowds were heard chanting “With Maduro, the people are safe!”, and despite his lacking Chavez’s charisma, the interim President is the public face of the Chavez regime, at present a vote winner.

It is not certain the PSUV will win at the upcoming election, however; the opposition Justice First party have an energetic leader and governor of the state of Miranda, Henrique Capriles, the Chavez camp have a genuine challenger.Capriles

Although losing last year’s election by a margin of 11 per cent (it should be said that this was the strongest opposition Chavez had ever faced in an election,) Capriles  centre-left policies, which emulate Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s mix of market-friendly economics combined with income redistribution, are potentially attractive to many Venezuelans.

Despite claiming that he and Chavez “were adversaries, never enemies”, Capriles has been quick to criticise the Chavez government over its relations with authoritarian leaders such as Bashar Al-Assad, toppled Libyan dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi and  Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and was a suspected conspirator in the 2002 attempted coup to topple Chavez – despite being cleared of all charges and released after a short stint in jail.

Many in the country feel that Capriles is the man to end the authoritarian grasp the PSUV have had on Venezuela for the last 14 years, promising an end to widespread corruption and human rights abuses in the country.

Capriles is certainly the White House’s preferred candidate after years of difficult relations between the two ideologically opposite countries, while Cuba and Nicaragua anxiously hope the opposition suffer another defeat so that Capriles cannot revoke the subsidised oil handed out by Chavez to friendly regimes.

The likelihood is that the PSUV will claim another victory in the wake of Hugo Chavez’s death.

According to Luis Vicente Leon, a South American political analyst, Manduro has “taken advantage of the emotions of Venezuelans still mourning their lost leader” and moulded it into support for the Chavez camp.

Change seems dubious in Venezuela, but what seems certain is that whoever succeeds Hugo Chavez will have to contend with a country whose economy is a casualty of rising inflation, rising debt, crumbling infrastructure and underperforming industry.

The below graph shows the evolution of poverty rates in South America over the past 15 years, based on ECLAC data. The decline in poverty was greater in Brazil, Chile and Peru. In Columbia, Bolivia Paraguay poverty fell less than in Venezuela. For Ecuador and Uruguay it is not possible to compare like with like.

Graph Chavez

Graph by Lanacion.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.

17 Responses to “What next for Venezuela? Maduro vs Capriles”

  1. Jack Meoff

    Ralph Kramden (a/k/a Nicolas Maduro), is now the interim President of Venezuela. I am sure that a former bus driver is more than qualified to run Venezuela. Hell, before I became the President, I was a community organizer!

  2. Rodrigo

    Capriles centre-left? Shame he doesn’t know that
    Just because the Bloomberg Report think he’s a lefty doesn’t mean he is, wee bit of lazy journalism there

  3. Robby

    I agree with you. if he plays centre left its because he has to muddy the water between himself and the people who generally pro-Chavez. Given the history of the whitehouse in its murderous acts in Latin America, such a blessing should be seen as a warning sign. Im seeing lazy journalism everywhere on Venezuela. This blogsite needs to up its game.

  4. Mick

    Looks a bit like Russia or Germany in the 20th Century, after years of turmoil they could have trouble seeing anyone decent.

    Ex-KGB men still run Russia whilst the Germans turned to ‘strong man’ Hitler to set stuff straight after the loss of World War 1 and the forerunner-PC Weimar Republic.

    Doesn’t seem any pf these people are truly legitimate and the public have been snowblinded by socialist propaganda for years. (Bit like Obama voters.)

  5. Jimmy Graham

    Yes can we have some evidence of Caprilles centre-left policies please?

    A cursory glance at last year’s election suggests his leftism extended as far as handing over Venezuelans’ oil to foreign business http://www.argentinaindependent.com/tag/capriles/

  6. Raging Leftie

    I would say he was over-qualified in fact.

  7. Jack Meoff

    In the immortal words of Hugo “el Presidente for Life” Chavez: “El ROTFLMAO!!!” El ha ha ha ha ha.

  8. Newsbot9

    Of course you want to see it down there. Keep talking up your favoured governments…legitimacy is never your criteria, after all.

    American Shill, keep whining because the moderate right winger, Obama, comfortably won over your hard right. lol Socialism.

  9. Newsbot9

    You mean compared to the British PM, who’s only “work” was folding towels?

  10. Jack Meoff

    Maybe we should compare him to you. You are the men’s room attendant at the London Hilton, correct?

  11. Newsbot9

    No, I am not after your job.

  12. Jack Meoff

    ROTFLMAO!!!! I am “de Prez”!!!

  13. Newsbot9

    Depressed? I can believe that.

  14. Jack Meoff

    Of course I am depressed! Did you ever see my wife’s fat a$$? My God, I have to live with that every day!

  15. Mick

    Virtually anyone is to the right of the anarchist Newsbot. Therefore, to him, virtually everyone is on the right.

    And his bitching about it is cold comfort for somebody whose mutualist policies will never be adopted.

  16. Newsbot9

    Nope, I’m a moderate left winger. Keep on demanding that you control me, though.

    And keep ignoring John Lewis and the Cooperative MP’s. Keep whining!

  17. Carlos

    The people in Venezuela wants Maduro as the successor of Chavez. It is very clear that Capriles is an agent for the USA.

Leave a Reply