Capriles tweaks opponents as skin-deep socialists

Venezuela’s opposition presidential candidate tore into government leaders on Wednesday as false revolutionaries lining their pockets while professing faith to the late Hugo Chavez’s radical socialism.

Trailing in opinion polls ahead of the April 14 vote, the candidate, Henrique Capriles, is attacking acting President Nicolas Maduro and other senior officials as a corrupt and incompetent coterie unable to solve Venezuelans’ basic problems.

“They talk of socialism, but it’s on the surface only. Look how those well-connected ones live, what they wear, what cars they go round in, how many bodyguards they have,” Capriles said.

“They are skin-deep socialists only. Their behavior, I’d say, is savage capitalism. They love traveling. During Easter, they were all off to La Orchila,” he added, referring to a military-run island in the Caribbean off Venezuela.

The 40-year-old state governor is trying to persuade voters that rival candidate Maduro is a far cry from Chávez, who died of cancer a month ago.

But passions are still running high over Chavez’s death, Maduro is presenting himself as the president’s son and apostle and Chavista supporters are largely expected to obey their beloved leader’s dying wish to support Maduro.

Nevertheless, Capriles’ attack on Wednesday went to the heart of a common complaint from rank-and-file Chavistas that senior officials are out of touch with the people’s problems, and too concerned with feathering their own nests.

“My fight is against the corrupt ones,” Capriles added, in an unusual meeting with leftists who support him.

Perpetuating the class rhetoric common during Chavez’s 14-year rule, Maduro and his supporters attack Capriles daily as a little bourgeois who is a puppet of Venezuela’s wealthy elite and their friends in the United States.

Maduro, 50, is a former bus driver who rose to become Chavez’s vice president, while Capriles, 40, comes from a wealthy family with extensive business interests.

The opposition candidate, who has governed populous Miranda state since 2008, said his record on building schools and anti-poverty measures spoke for itself.

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