It’s clear that election activity is very much in full swing. In the heart of cosmopolitan Caracas — and even in the eastern districts that are wealthier and which you’d expect to be very much behind opposition candidate Henrique Capriles — the more pronounced street presence belongs to the chavistas and their candidate, acting president Nicolás Maduro, the hand-picked candidate of his late predecessor, Hugo Chávez (pictured below in effigy in Altamira earlier today), notwithstanding a massive rally last Sunday on the Avenida Bolívar in support of Capriles.
It’s astonishing the extent to which the Maduro campaign is really just a rehash of the October 2012 Chávez campaign — at one booth on the Sabana Grande, a Maduro volunteer handed me a poster of el comandante himself with a pamphlet describing Chávez’s 2012 campaign plan for the next term. While it’s a function of facility, there’s also certainly no electoral downside for Maduro in making Chávez very much his 2013 running mate.
Capriles signs are few and far between, but they do exist and they are around, though I certainly didn’t see much in the way of boisterous caravans of Capriles supporters in the way that red-shirted chavistas paraded throughout the city today:
I didn’t see much in the way of anti-chavista or anti-Maduro graffiti, though it’s very much in favor of Maduro — and in opposition to Capriles. Here’s one building with the words ‘un gran cobero,’ a slur that roughly translates to ‘big liar’ in Venezuelan slang, against Capriles that Chávez was known to use in the 2012 campaign:
I’ve never been to a country with such a basketcase economy (more on that later), Maduro has less personal commitment and charisma than Chávez had, Capriles has run a much more aggressive campaign, and polls even showed the race tightening last week. So there’s really no way to extrapolate a Maduro victory just because the government has more resources to use to bring carloads of supporters out or to print more posters to hand out. But if one morning and afternoon stroll is worth anything (and it’s anecdotal, nothing more), Maduro has the upper hand — the key, of course, is whether the ground game on Sunday will turn out as effectively.
Photo credit to Kevin Lees.