Polls open in Venezuela as Maduro seeks reelection


[CNN] – Polls opened in Venezuela on Sunday for the nation’s presidential election. President Nicolas Maduro is seeking reelection for a six-year term in an electoral process that has been criticized both inside and outside Venezuela.

The main opposition coalition is boycotting the election, though Maduro is not without challengers.
Maduro’s chief rival in Sunday’s vote is Henri Falcon, a former state governor and onetime loyalist of the ruling party who broke ranks in 2010.
Amid allegations from leaders in the region that the election process lacks legitimacy, Maduro said the outcome will be respected.
“There has been a fierce campaign by the government of Donald Trump,” Maduro said in a news conference on Sunday. “In the United States there has been a fierce pressure to try to besmirch the Venezuelan elections — and they couldn’t.”

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro
The country has endured political tumult and economic misery, including food and medicine shortages, and hyperinflation. Because of the deteriorating situation, an estimated 1.6 million people fled the country between 2015 and 2017, according to the International Organization for Migration 

Maduro has been Venezuela’s President since former President Hugo Chavez died in 2013. Under Chavez, the country turned toward socialism. Many Venezuelans saw him as the hero of the poor. Before he died, Chavez picked Maduro as his successor, which helped put Maduro over the top in the 2013 presidential election.
Venezuela holds the world’s largest supply of crude oil — which once seemed like an endless gusher of cash for the government.
Plummeting oil prices crashed the country’s economy in 2016. It has since completely collapsed, and the country now finds itself in the middle of a financial crisis. The International Monetary fund expects that inflation in Venezuela will reach 13,000% in 2018.
Falcon was once a Chavez supporter. In 2010, he broke with the ruling party and has been a vocal critic of the government in recent years. He believes the way out of the financial crisis is the dollarization of the country — pinning the country’s economy on the US dollar.
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