Venezuela’s Maduro Eyes Second Term

Venezuela’s Maduro Eyes Second TermVenezuela’s Maduro Eyes Second Term

Defying foreign governments’ pressure, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was seeking a six-year term on Sunday in a vote.

Venezuelans, reeling under a devastating economic crisis, went to the polls on Sunday in an election which is expected to hand Maduro a new mandate, AFP reported.

Maduro, the political heir to the late leftist firebrand Hugo Chavez, has presided over an implosion of once wealthy oil producer Venezuela’s economy since taking office in 2013.

Hyperinflation, food and medicine shortages, rising crime and broken water, power and transportation networks have sparked growing discontent and violent unrest among Venezuelans.

However, the 55-year-old former bus driver is the favorite to win ahead of his main rival Henri Falcon, a former army officer and state governor who has failed to gain the endorsement of the main opposition leaders, and an evangelical candidate, Javier Bertucci.

  Economic Revolution

Maduro faces a bitterly divided opposition which has called for a boycott. Aware of the popular mood, he promised on Saturday an “economic revolution” if re-elected.  

“We are defending ... the right to a just and prosperous future,” he said on Twitter.

Falcon promised to dollarize the economy, return companies expropriated by Chavez and allow humanitarian aid, something rejected by Maduro. “Our struggle has been aimed at a peaceful and electoral path,” he said on Twitter.

Some 20.5 million people are eligible to vote in a one-round election to choose a president for a six-year term that will begin in January 2019.

Presidential elections are traditionally held in December, but they were moved up this year by the country’s Constituent Assembly.

Despite holding the world’s largest oil reserves, the country’s economy has been tanking, with the IMF citing a drop of 45.0% in GDP since Maduro took over in 2013.

The crippled oil industry lacks investment and its assets are increasingly prey to debt settlements as the country defaults. And worse, the US threatens an oil embargo on top of the sanctions that have hit Venezuela’s efforts to renegotiate its debt.

CAPTION: Nicolas Maduro


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