Maduro favored as Venezuelans vote amid crisis - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Maduro favored as Venezuelans vote amid crisis

Posted: Updated:
CARACAS, Venezuela -

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is expected to win a second six-year term in Sunday’s election, despite a deepening crisis that’s made food scarce and inflation soar as oil production in the once wealthy nation plummets.

More than 1 million Venezuelans have abandoned their country for a better life abroad in recent years, while those staying behind wait in line for hours to buy subsidized food and withdraw cash that’s almost impossible to find.

While polls show Venezuelans overwhelmingly blame Maduro for their mounting troubles, he’s still heavily favored to win thanks to a boycott of the election by his main rivals amid huge distrust of the nation’s electoral council, which is controlled by government loyalists.

Maduro, setting an example for government supporters who he called on to vote early, cast his ballot in Caracas shortly after fireworks and loud speakers blasting a military hymn roused Venezuelans from sleep around 5 a.m. local time.

He said Venezuelans would provide an example of democracy to the world and brushed back suggestions he was taking the country down an authoritarian path.

“It’s offensive when they say the Venezuelan people are falling under dictatorship,” he said after voting, adding that if he were to win the election he would seek an understanding with his opponents on a way forward for the crisis-wracked country. “I’m going to stubbornly and obsessively insist in dialogue for peace.”

On Friday, the Trump administration added Diosdado Cabello, a key Maduro ally, to a growing list of top officials targeted by financial sanctions, accusing the socialist party boss of drug trafficking and embezzlement.

Maduro’s main rival, independent candidate Henri Falcon, has faced the dual challenge of running against a powerful incumbent while trying to convince skeptical Venezuelans to defy the boycott called by the main opposition coalition.

Blasting Maduro as the “candidate of hunger,” he has campaigned on a promise to dollarize wages pulverized by five-digit inflation, accept humanitarian aid and seek assistance from the International Monetary Fund — all proposals Maduro has rejected as tantamount to surrendering to the U.S. “empire.”

“I swear that I will liberate Venezuela from this dictatorship,” Falcon shouted to supporters at his final campaign rally Thursday in his home city of Barquisimeto. “I swear it in the name of God.”

Also on the ballot is television evangelist Javier Bertucci, who has cut into Falcon’s support by providing free soup at rallies.

On Sunday, festive revolutionary music played as a few dozen voters stood in a long line to flash their so-called “fatherland cards” to socialist party volunteers.

A woman wearing the red, yellow and blue colors of Venezuela’s flag scanned each card with her phone —a form of verifying that cardholders had done their patriotic duty of voting, presumably for President Nicolas Maduro.

The existence of so-called “Red Points,” many just a few steps from voting centers, is an integral part of the government’s get out the vote machinery.

“If the opposition wants to do the same, they are free to do so,” said Rigoberto Barazarte, the owner of a small car wash business who wants to see a re-elected Maduro toughen his stance against elites he says are trying to sabotage Venezuela’s economy.

But in the opposition stronghold of eastern Caracas, the leafy streets were largely empty.

Around 80 percent of Venezuelans believe Maduro has done a bad job, yet turnout is expected to be the lowest since Chavez was elected in 1998, with only 34 percent saying they are certain they will vote, according to recent polling by Datanalisis.

The election has drawn broad criticism since some of Maduro’s most-popular rivals were barred from running, and several more were forced into exile. Echoing the views of Venezuela’s tattered opposition movement, the United States, European Union and many Latin American countries have already said they won’t recognize the results.

In addition, pressure tactics honed in past campaigns have kicked into overdrive, further tilting the playing field in Maduro’s favor.

Almost 75 percent of households said they received government-issued food boxes in the past three months, according to Datanalisis, and Maduro on the stump has promised that the 16.5 million holders of the fledgling “fatherland card” will be rewarded for their vote. Just to be sure, so-called “red points” will be set up outside voting centers checking peoples’ cards, which are needed to access social programs.

“This is neither a competitive or democratic election, and the result may not reflect the preference and decision of the voters,” said Luis Vicente Leon, president of Datanalisis.

Still, some question the wisdom of not competing in an election, even if it is widely seen as rigged.

A 2010 study by the Brookings Institution covering 171 electoral boycotts around the world — from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe — found that such maneuvers rarely succeed in rendering elections illegitimate in the eyes of the world. Instead, the boycotting party usually emerges weaker and the incumbent empowered.

Javier Corrales, a Venezuela expert at Amherst College, said the opposition’s sit-out strategy could be as disastrous as its boycott of congressional elections in 2005, which led the ruling party to sweep all seats and pass legislation removing presidential term limits that further strengthened Chavez.

“The irony is that this is the least democratic election of all but it’s also the best chance the opposition has ever had,” said Corrales. “If Maduro wins by a large margin, he’ll take it is as a green light to continue radicalizing and moving in the direction of completely destroying the private sector.”

___

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Two injured in Montana after swerving to avoid a kangaroo -- Really

    Two injured in Montana after swerving to avoid a kangaroo -- Really

    Thursday, June 21 2018 12:46 PM EDT2018-06-21 16:46:44 GMT
    File photo of a kangarooFile photo of a kangaroo

    DODSON, Mont. - Two people were injured in Montana Wednesday morning after swerving to avoid a kangaroo on the road.  Trooper Matt Finley with the Montana Highway Patrol said he thought it was a joke when he responded to the call, but when he arrived at about 4 a.m. he saw the kangaroo.  Trooper Finley said he learned there is a kangaroo farm west of Dodson. 

    >>

    DODSON, Mont. - Two people were injured in Montana Wednesday morning after swerving to avoid a kangaroo on the road.  Trooper Matt Finley with the Montana Highway Patrol said he thought it was a joke when he responded to the call, but when he arrived at about 4 a.m. he saw the kangaroo.  Trooper Finley said he learned there is a kangaroo farm west of Dodson. 

    >>
  • Puyallup woman pleads guilty to defrauding $290K from Costco

    Puyallup woman pleads guilty to defrauding $290K from Costco

    Thursday, June 21 2018 12:56 AM EDT2018-06-21 04:56:03 GMT
    Puyallup woman pleads guilty to defrauding $290K from CostcoPuyallup woman pleads guilty to defrauding $290K from Costco
    Federal officials say further testing was unable to confirm the presence of E. coli in the onions and celery used to make chicken salad at Costco warehouses across the country.Federal officials say further testing was unable to confirm the presence of E. coli in the onions and celery used to make chicken salad at Costco warehouses across the country.

    TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - A Washington state woman has pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $290,000 from a Costco warehouse over five years. The News Tribune reports 54-year-old Robin Cline pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Tacoma to charges of wire fraud.  Cline of Puyallup worked at Costco in Fife from 1996 to 2016 as an accounts receivable clerk. She was responsible for processing payments and refunds for customers of the warehouse club operator. Accordi...

    >>

    TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - A Washington state woman has pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $290,000 from a Costco warehouse over five years. The News Tribune reports 54-year-old Robin Cline pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Tacoma to charges of wire fraud.  Cline of Puyallup worked at Costco in Fife from 1996 to 2016 as an accounts receivable clerk. She was responsible for processing payments and refunds for customers of the warehouse club operator. Accordi...

    >>
  • Spokane business owner fed up with feces, unwanted surprise at work

    Spokane business owner fed up with feces, unwanted surprise at work

    Thursday, June 21 2018 2:32 AM EDT2018-06-21 06:32:06 GMT

    A Spokane business owner says enough is enough after finding human feces in front of her doorstep three days in a row. The incidences happened at Neat Old Stuff located at 3rd and Bernard. The shop's owner, CP Phare, has been in the same location for the last decade and says suspicious activity has ramped up in the last year, but nothing like what's been happening over the last few days. "There's like surprise packages usually two-to-three times a week," 

    >>

    A Spokane business owner says enough is enough after finding human feces in front of her doorstep three days in a row. The incidences happened at Neat Old Stuff located at 3rd and Bernard. The shop's owner, CP Phare, has been in the same location for the last decade and says suspicious activity has ramped up in the last year, but nothing like what's been happening over the last few days. "There's like surprise packages usually two-to-three times a week," 

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • Top Stories from KHQHomeMore>>

  • Terminally ill Rathdrum baby gets gift of comfort from local business

    Terminally ill Rathdrum baby gets gift of comfort from local business

    Thursday, June 21 2018 9:54 PM EDT2018-06-22 01:54:33 GMT

    RATHDRUM, Idaho - A family said their main priority right now is keeping their sick baby comfortable. They were recently told by doctor's their 19month-old daughter isn't expected to live much longer. They said one of the only things that eases her pain is a specialty chair that insurance won't cover. That's when friends said, "Help Me Hayley."

    >>

    RATHDRUM, Idaho - A family said their main priority right now is keeping their sick baby comfortable. They were recently told by doctor's their 19month-old daughter isn't expected to live much longer. They said one of the only things that eases her pain is a specialty chair that insurance won't cover. That's when friends said, "Help Me Hayley."

    >>
  • Hard Rock casino installs big guitar with misspelled word

    Hard Rock casino installs big guitar with misspelled word

    Thursday, June 21 2018 9:45 PM EDT2018-06-22 01:45:21 GMT

    ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - The soon-to-open Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City had to work quickly to fix a misspelling on a 30-foot-tall (9-meter-tall) guitar installed this week.    The sign, modeled after a Gibson Les Paul guitar, was put up Thursday morning without officials noticing the word "rhythm" was misspelled on the rhythm and treble switch. It included the letter "E."

    >>

    ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - The soon-to-open Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City had to work quickly to fix a misspelling on a 30-foot-tall (9-meter-tall) guitar installed this week.    The sign, modeled after a Gibson Les Paul guitar, was put up Thursday morning without officials noticing the word "rhythm" was misspelled on the rhythm and treble switch. It included the letter "E."

    >>
  • Kootenai County Sheriff's Office Program Helps Find Elderly With Dementia Or Alzheimer's

    Kootenai County Sheriff's Office Program Helps Find Elderly With Dementia Or Alzheimer's

    Thursday, June 21 2018 9:23 PM EDT2018-06-22 01:23:49 GMT

    KOOTENAI COUNTY, Idaho - It doesn’t matter the time of year or the conditions outside, rescuers risk their lives to find missing people. Some are found; others don’t make it. “We're having a lot of calls for service in reference to these folks wandering away from their homes,” Will Klinkefus, a sergeant with the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office said. Two years ago, the sheriff’s office became the first law enforcement agency in Idaho to 

    >>

    KOOTENAI COUNTY, Idaho - It doesn’t matter the time of year or the conditions outside, rescuers risk their lives to find missing people. Some are found; others don’t make it. “We're having a lot of calls for service in reference to these folks wandering away from their homes,” Will Klinkefus, a sergeant with the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office said. Two years ago, the sheriff’s office became the first law enforcement agency in Idaho to 

    >>