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Venezuelan presidential campaign begins

  |   April 2, 2013 at 4:28 PM
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CARACAS, Venezuela, April 2 (UPI) -- Venezuela's presidential campaign season began Tuesday, with leading contender Nicolas Maduro tracing the steps of late President Hugo Chavez, officials said.

Maduro, Chaves' vice president and now acting president, launched his drive in Barinas, Chaves' hometown, the BBC reported. He is expected to follow the same route Chavez took when he ran for a third term six months ago.

Henrique Capriles, the leading opposition candidate, had planned to start his campaign in Barinas as well, but switched to the state of Monegas after Maduro's administration labeled the plan "a provocation."

Maduro has continually invoked Chaves, referring to himself as the controversial leader's son and apostle.

Capriles has focused on instability in the country, saying the Chavez government had failed to come up with "a single proposal to defeat violence and give peace to Venezuela."

Pro-government politicians have rejected claims by opposition lawmakers the government was designing a plan for the Bolivian armed forces to mobilize people to vote for Maduro, Venezuelanalysis.com reported.

Capriles on Monday slammed Maduro for his comments about complaints by the opposition that Cuban doctors working in Venezuela were comparable to the persecution of Jews by the Nazis, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported.

"The heirs of Hitler are leading a campaign in Venezuela against the Cuban people," Maduro said.

Responding, Capriles charged that Maduro was saying "that those who do not think like him are killers."

Maduro has a 14-percentage-points lead over Capriles, polls indicate. The election is scheduled for April 14.

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