Hugo Chavez

Venezuelan Opposition Candidates Face Tough Fight

Running against the ghost of Chavez may be a problem

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The outpouring of adoration for Venezuela's charismatic late leader Hugo Chávez on Thursday underscored the challenge the country's opposition faced in besting his political heir, Vice President Nicolás Maduro, in snap elections set for next month.

Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans jammed a broad avenue leading to a military academy where Mr. Chávez's body, dressed in a military uniform in an open casket, was on display. They hoped to pay their respects to the larger-than-life leader who used high oil prices to create social spending programs that made him enormously popular during his 14 years in power.

Many, like 70-year-old grandmother Inés Lara, had traveled for several hours from other cities to catch a glimpse of a man whom they had never met, but who was always on their television or radio issuing decrees, telling stories, singing songs, or making jokes.