While North Korea has stolen the world’s attention with threats to start war with South Korea and its allies, especially United States and Japan, Venezuelans will be going to the poll stations today to vote a president after Hugo Chavez died in power.
The election is expected to be crucial, especially as Nicolas Maduro, who Hugo Chavez personally chose to replace him in case death come knocking, is standing against a strong rival and opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles.
Capriles also a candidate of the people remarkable for his close association with the people, especially the poor could spring a surprise at the polls.
Capriles’s campaign messages to fix the poor Venezuelan economy; improve education for all; and cut down crime rates could as well work out in his favour.
However, Venezuelans’ unflinching support for late Chavez, who lost a two-year battle against cancer on 5 March, would be put to test in today’s election.
Since Chavez passed away, many Venezuelans, especially the lower classes have been inconsolable. Some staunch supporters have even built shrine with Chavez’s statute and worship it, believing that the leader is still with them spiritually.
Maduro the acting president has been working on Chavez’s popularity and philosophy to solicit votes, and even visited the tomb of the fallen leader yesterday.
Whether Venezuelans would crown him as the possible successor of their idol, only the polls’ results would tell.
But if he loses, that might be another story since he might want to use other means to cling on power.
His supporters and probably those of late Chavez might decide to pour on the streets to protest and resist letting go the power they have enjoyed for over 14 years under the socialist umbrella.
Whoever finally wins the election has an exigent task in hand to re-establish Venezuela’s diplomatic relationship with most of the enemies of Chavez.