Henrique Capriles’ suicide mission will likely come to an end Sunday, when Venezuelans go to the polls and elect Nicolás Maduro, Hugo Chávez’s handpicked successor, in a nasty, rigged campaign. If Capriles should somehow win — an improbability by almost any measure — it is, frankly, unlikely the Maduro forces don’t have a Plan B to hold on to power, such as an appeal to the Venezuelan Supreme Court — handpicked by Chávez and a vital player in these last few months in the drama of Chávez’s death, Maduro’s presidential succession and the laying out of the campaign frame work.
The brief 30-day campaign has favored Maduro not simply because of his association with Chávez and because Chávez’s last public words were an endorsement of him as heir — though this alone is a mighty reason for many Venezuelans to support him.
Maduro’s incumbency, however controversial, has meant the full weight and credit of the Venezuelan government media machine going all out, blacking out Capriles (who’s been reduced to campaigning on one TV station and social media while Maduro campaigns on 7 channels whenever he wants and travels on the government’s dime) and constant attacks of the dirtiest kind. So far, Maduro has strongly implied Capriles is gay and outright called him an “heir to Hitler,” a particularly ironic and stinging barb considering Capriles’ grandparents were Holocaust survivors. On the final day, Maduro warned that anyone who didn’t vote for him would awaken a 100 year-old curse.