CARACAS — The official election campaign to replace the late President Hugo Chavez is getting under way in Venezuela.
The two main candidates have already been holding events in the month since Chavez died of cancer.
Today, opposition candidate Henrique Capriles accused acting president Nicolas Maduro of unfairly using state media in his campaign.
He is trailing Maduro in the opinion polls for the election on April 14, the first without Chavez for 15 years.
“The state media have become a propaganda wing of a political party,” Capriles said about Maduro’s United Socialist Party.
In response, Communications Minister Ernesto Villegas asked Capriles to be interviewed on state television, a request Capriles has turned down in the past saying state media was biased against him.
Maduro, who was chosen by Chavez as his successor before the former president travelled to Cuba for cancer surgery in December, will start his campaign in Barinas, Chavez’s home state.
He will then follow the route Chavez travelled during the last presidential campaign six months ago, hoping that he too, will end it in the presidential palace.
Capriles will kick off his official campaign in the state of Monegas, after a previous plan to start in Barinas was labelled “a provocation” by the government.
Even though these are the first elections without the presence of Chavez for almost two decades, he continues to dominate the campaign.
War of words
Maduro has continually invoked the memory of Chavez and called himself his son and apostle, while Capriles has told his supporters that Maduro is not as competent as the late president.
Capriles has also focussed on insecurity in the country, saying that the government has failed to put forward “a single proposal to defeat violence and give peace to Venezuela”.
According to Interior Minister Nestor Reverol, 3,400 murders were recorded in Venezuela in the first three months of 2013. (BBC)