Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro signs the victory after a meeting with former Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero at the presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, on Friday, May 18, 2018. Maduro looks for a The new mandate of six years and, despite the paralyzing hyperinflation and widespread shortages of food and medicine, is widely expected to win on May 20 in an election that opponents have denounced as a fraud and have been condemned by much of the international community. (Ariana Cubillos / Associated Press)
CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is expected to win a second six-year term in Sunday's election, despite a crisis that exacerbated food shortages and inflation soars. in the once rich nation it plummets.
More than 1 million Venezuelans have left their country for a better life abroad in recent years, while those who remain wait in line for hours to buy subsidized food and withdraw money that is almost impossible to find .
While polls show that Venezuelans overwhelmingly blame Maduro for his growing problems, he is still very favored for winning thanks to the boycott of his main rivals amid great mistrust in the national electoral council, which is controlled by loyalists to the government.  Maduro ended his campaign on Thursday dancing on stage before a crowd that cheered him in Caracas, while blaming Venezuela's increasingly desperate perspective on an "economy" orchestrated by the United States. ic. "
" I extend my hands to all Venezuelans so that we can advance together with love and recover our homeland, "said Maduro, the handpicked successor of the late President Hugo Chávez, who launched the leftist revolution in Venezuela. seen the future of Venezuela and a historic victory awaits us. "
On Friday, the Trump administration added Diosdado Cabello, a key ally of Maduro, to a growing list of top officials targeted by financial sanctions, accusing the ruling socialist party of drug trafficking and embezzlement.
Maduro's main rival, independent candidate Henri Falcon, has faced the double challenge of competing against a powerful incumbent while trying to convince Venezuelan skeptics to challenge the boycott called by the main opposition coalition.
In criticizing Maduro as the "hunger candidate", he campaigned on the promise of dollarization of salaries pulverized by In five-digit inflation, accepting humanitarian aid and seeking help from the International Monetary Fund, all the proposals that Maduro has rejected are equivalent to surrendering to the US. UU "Empire".
"I swear I will liberate Venezuela from this dictatorship," Falcon shouted to the supporters in his final campaign on Thursday in his hometown of Barquisimeto. "I swear on behalf of God."
TV evangelist Javier Bertucci also appears on the ballot, who has cut Falcon's support by offering free soup at rallies.
About 80 percent of Venezuelans believe that Maduro has done a bad job, however, participation is expected to be the lowest since Chávez was elected in 1998, with only 34 percent saying they are safe that they will vote, according to recent Datanalisis surveys.
The elections have received widespread criticism since some of Maduro's most popular rivals were forbidden to run, and many more were forced into exile. Echoing the opinions of the ragged Venezuelan opposition movement, the United States, the European Union and many Latin American countries have already said they will not recognize the results.
In addition, the tactics of pressure perfected in past campaigns have accelerated, further turning the playing field in favor of Maduro.
Almost 75 percent of households said they received food boxes issued by the government in the last three months, according to Datanalisis, and Maduro in the stump promised that the 16.5 million holders of the nascent "homeland" card " You will be rewarded by your vote, just to be sure, the so-called "red dots" will be established outside the voting centers that verify the people's cards, which are necessary to access social programs.
"This is not a competitive or democratic election, and the result may not reflect the preference and the decision of the voters, "said Luis Vicente León, president of Datanalisis.
Still, some question the wisdom of not competing in an election, even if it is considered manipulated.
A 2010 study by the Brookings Institution that covers 171 electoral boycotts around the world – from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe – found that such maneuvering rar they also make elections illegitimate in the eyes of the world. In contrast, the boycott party generally weakens and the incumbent has power.
Javier Corrales, a Venezuelan expert at Amherst College, said the opposition's strategy could be as disastrous as its boycott of the legislative elections in 2005, which led to the party's decision to sweep all seats and pass legislation that It removes the limits of the presidential mandate that strengthened Chávez even more.
"The irony is that this is the least democratic election of all, but it is also the best opportunity that the opposition has had," Corrales said. "If Maduro wins by a wide margin, he will take it as a green light to continue radicalizing and moving in the direction of completely destroying the private sector."
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