May 18, 2013
Capriles mocks Maduro as non-entity
Fighting an uphill battle in Venezuela's election, opposition leader Henrique Capriles scoffs at acting president and rival Nicolás Maduro as a non-entity riding on the memory of Hugo Chávez to hide his own incompetence.
In an interview on his campaign bus, Capriles also accused the late president's chosen heir Maduro of trying to distract voters from real problems with wild claims including a US-based plot to kill the opposition candidate.
"Nicolás does not even reach the ankle of President Chávez," Capriles told reporters, comparing his battle for the upcoming April 14 vote with last year's presidential poll against Chávez.
"Nicolás' biggest weakness is that it seems he doesn't even exist, the only thing you see in the campaign is the image of the president (Chávez) ... Nicolas is just not up to it."
With sympathy over Chávez's death from cancer this month galvanizing government supporters, Maduro, 50, a former bus driver and long-time socialist stalwart, is favourite to win leadership of the South American OPEC nation next month.
Capriles, 40, is determined to stop that by both attacking Maduro's personal capacity and highlighting the plethora of grassroots problems that irritate Venezuelans, ranging from potholes and crime to power cuts and corruption.
The Miranda state governor, a centrist politician who admires Brazil's free-market economics with strong welfare policies, lost to Chávez last year by 11 percentage points.