(CARACAS, Venezuela) — Venezuela’s charismatic leader Hugo Chavez may still be the favorite to win Sunday’s presidential election, but polls show that momentum has been building behind opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, who trails Chavez by just 10 points.
Capriles, a 40-year-old business-friendly law graduate, has mounted unprecedented electoral challenge to Chavez, who is popular among voters, but is also known for his anti-capitalism policies and opposition to U.S. foreign policy. While Capriles says he would keep many of Chavez’s more popular social benefits, he promises a seismic shift in foreign policy.
After 14 years of Chavez, Venezuelans may have had enough. But it wouldn’t be for the first time. In 2002, Chavez, 58, survived a coup attempt and defeated a recall referendum in 2004.
But Capriles himself has warned that his victory could trigger violence and possibly civil war. Supporters of both candidates have already been blasting away at each other in deadly shootouts. The military, Venezuela’s most powerful institution, has vowed not to interfere.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN