“It’s like Chavez in 1998, when he won the presidency. But Henrique has surpassed that. He is closer to the people.
We’ve never had a candidate like him,” explains enthused shopkeeper Andrea Gomez. Meanwhile Henrique rallies his crowd. “I think this is the biggest rally Caracas has ever seen, Bolivar Avenue is too small for us,” he cries.
On Oct. 7, Venezuela goes to the polls to choose the guy who will run this show for the next six years. The candidates are Henrique Capriles Radonski, the young, energetic governor of the state of Miranda, and the controversial incumbent since 1999, Hugo Chavez.
As President, Chavez has been accused of trying to emulate a Cuban-style communist dictatorship. He has also been criticized for having close ties with countries perhaps best known for their international disapproval, including Cuba, Libya, and Iran. Politically instability has been the norm under Chavez with an attempted coup, economic mismanagement, and constant protests. The country’s crime rate has never been higher.
This background is shaping a unique election. This is the first time in Chavez’s three terms that he has faced a creditable candidate. Capriles has managed to unite more than 30 opposition parties under his campaign, and political analysts today are calling the election a dead heat. Capriles claims his political inspiration is former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva who courted businesses and investors while also developing social programs. It is Brazil’s successful economic plan that he wants to bring to Venezuela.
Venezuela is a country of stunning beauty with its rain-forest, rolling hills, and long coastline. If Capriles wins the presidency next week and power passes peacefully, it will be time for investors to return their attention to a market most of the world has abandoned in recent years. As a result, this country’s glorious white-sand beaches are seriously under-valued.