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Monday, June 14, 2004

Venezuela

Steven Ixer of Business Week warns Venezuela watchers to not count out Hugo Chavez:

Despite the opposition's optimism... it would be unwise to count the wily President out. While polls show that only 28% of Venezuelans back Chávez, the opposition has the support of just 38% of voters -- and the rest are undecided. "This campaign has to be directed at the neutrals," says Luis Vicente León, director of local polling company Datanálisis.

A look at Venezuela's political landscape makes it clear that the fractured opposition has no front-running candidate to challenge Chávez. The opposition is split among leaders such as the center-right [state governor Enrique] Mendoza, Oxford-educated liberal lawyer Julio Borges, and Pompeyo Márquez, a longtime leftist. Little unites them beyond their desire to get Chávez out of office. "People are being asked to vote either for or against Chávez, but they have no idea what the alternative is," says Michael Rowan, director of Corporate Strategy and Communications, a local consultancy.

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