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Venezuelan voters explain choices for president

Associated Press Modified: October 6, 2012 at 7:01 am •  Published: October 6, 2012
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MARLY VELASQUEZ, 27

Working alongside other volunteers, Marly Velasquez rolled up posters of Capriles and placed them inside a cardboard box. Fellow campaign workers handed them to pedestrians and motorists passing along a road on Caracas' outskirts.

Velasquez, a secretary, voiced concerns about widespread crime, sluggish economic growth and political animosity between Venezuelans. She said she's worried that her 1-year-old son, Juan, will grow up in a deeply divided society if Chavez is re-elected to another six-year term.

"I want my son to live in a different type of country, a country without insults, economic problems and so much crime," Velasquez said.

Capriles "knows how to respect people without giving any importance to whether one is rich or poor," she said.

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OMAR CRUZ, 19

Outside a bustling supermarket shortly after dusk, Omar Cruz and his friends busily attended to shoppers emerging with carts filled with groceries.

Cruz, who helps shoppers push the carts to their cars for tips, said he is grateful to Chavez for easing the burdens of poverty through dozens of government social programs called "missions."

"The missions have helped us during difficult times and given us opportunities that we wouldn't have if Chavez were not our president," Cruz said.

He said his 55-year-old mother learned to read and write through a Cuban-inspired government literacy program that has reached millions of Venezuelans over the last decade.

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JORGE RUEDA, 71

Working with a shopping cart full of oranges and topped with a cutting board, Jorge Rueda sold freshly squeezed juice to people passing by on the sidewalk.

He complained that industrial and agricultural production has fallen significantly under Chavez, reducing job opportunities and increasing consumer prices that have contributed to double-digit inflation.

Rueda said he voted for Chavez in past elections, but stopped supporting the president because he believes the leader has surrounded himself with aides whose only merits are loyalty to the "Bolivarian Revolution," a political movement Chavez named for 19th century independence hero Simon Bolivar.

"Chavez has done many good things but the people surrounding him don't help, and that has caused many problems," including an increase in governmental inefficiency, Rueda said.

He said he believes Capriles would be a competent administrator who would appoint experts as ministers.