Barinas, Venezuela, Mar 29 (EFE).- Venezuelan opposition presidential candidate Henri Falcon on Thursday held a campaign rally in the birthplace of the late former President Hugo Chavez, who governed the country from 1999 until his death in 2013.
Falcon strolled among the crowd of hundreds in the capital of the western state of Barinas summarizing for his listeners his proposed government plan by simply saying “we will get out of this,” alluding that the poor conditions in the deteriorated neighborhood reflect the overall state of the country.
In the forefront of the throng were outright Falcon followers, but the crowd also included disillusioned former pro-Chavez folk tired of the political and economic crisis scourging the country.
“I was a Chavista and I don’t regret it, because one should not regret (such) things,” Jacqueline Vivas, an economist and Falcon supporter, told EFE. “But just as sure as I fought for (Chavez) to win, I will fight to free Venezuela from this exterminating plague called Chavismo.”
Vivas – a self-proclaimed militant with the Progressive Advance party, founded in 2012 by Chavismo dissidents and helmed by Falcon – added that she hopes the candidate can “open a humanitarian channel” and “rebuild the country’s economy,” should he become president.
Like many others, Vivas turned her back on Chavismo amid the decline of Venezuela’s economy, ranked the worst in the region, according to Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) figures published last December.
“I won’t deny it,” said Karelys Perez, a 33-year-old former supporter of President Nicolas Maduro. “I voted for Maduro because Chavez left him (in charge) and I thought the country would remain well.”
Falcon, 56, will run against Maduro – who is seeking another term – in the upcoming May 20 race, additionally disputed only by independent evangelical pastor Javier Bertucci and two other virtually unknown contenders.
“People were sold real expectations involving a socialist model that offered them heaven and gave them hell,” Falcon – who governed Lara state from 2008-2017 and left the United Socialist Party in 2010 – told EFE, adding that the people were cheated and are desperate to rid themselves of the current government.
A total of 20 million Venezuelans are eligible to cast ballots in a country whose inflation rate has been calculated at some 6,147 percent, according to official figures.