Latin American Program in the News: Venezuelan Election's Winged Endorsement

Wall Street Journal

Apr 15, 2013

The birdsong, typically responded to by ecstatic crowds with whistling of their own, underscores the candidate's reliance on the memory of Mr. Chavez, who died Mar. 5 from cancer after dominating this oil-rich country for 14 years, to carry Mr. Maduro to victory in Sunday's poll over his challenger Henrique Capriles, an opposition governor.

"The only thing that makes sense for Maduro is to invoke Chavez's spirit," said Cynthia Arnson, director of the Wilson Center's Latin American program. "[Maduro] is not a person that has a broad following or a strong emotional connection with poor Venezuelans. The strategy is obviously to capitalize on the adoration within the Chavista base."

During Mr. Maduro's campaign stops, he describes himself as the late leader's "son." In the background, giant screens replay clips of the late comandante when he announced last December that he wanted Mr. Maduro to be his successor. During a recent stop, the former foreign minister told the crowd that he could sum up his policies with one word: Chavez.

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