CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela's presidential election pits incumbent Hugo Chavez against challenger Henrique Capriles. Sunday's vote will determine who governs the country for a six-year term from 2013 to 2019.
Hugo Chavez, 58, has been president since 1999. As an army paratroop commander, he led a failed 1992 coup attempt. He was jailed, later pardoned and elected president in 1998. He survived a short-lived 2002 coup. His Bolivarian Revolution movement, named after 19th century independence hero Simon Bolivar, is moving Venezuela toward socialism, he says. Chavez has twice won re-election. His only clear electoral loss came in 2007, when voters rejected constitutional changes. Chavez announced in June 2011 that he had a cancerous tumor removed from his pelvic region. He has since undergone another surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. He now says he is cancer-free.
Henrique Capriles, 40, a former state governor, won a first-ever opposition presidential primary in February. Capriles won a congressional seat at age 26. He was a Caracas district mayor and in 2008 defeated a Chavez ally, Diosdado Cabello, to become governor in Miranda state, which includes part of Caracas. Capriles describes his views as center-left. He says he admires former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's promotion of pro-business policies while also funding social programs for the poor.
WHY IT MATTERS:
DEMOCRACY, OIL AND CHAVEZ'S LEGACY
The election will determine whether Chavez's drive for a socialist system prospers or is thwarted.