Venezuela candidates torched in Easter effigy

Venezuela's two presidential candidates were burnt in effigy Sunday in an Easter tradition that replaces the biblical Judas Iscariot with disliked public figures.

In Caracas, supporters of interim President Nicolas Maduro -- the hand-picked successor of late president Hugo Chavez -- torched an effigy of opposition candidate Henrique Capriles.

His crime? "Betraying the Venezuelan people and surrendering to the interests of imperialism," Socialist Party politician Nahum Fernandez told VTV state television network.

Separately, a dummy with three heads -- those of Maduro, Interior Minister Nestor Reverol, and a Caracas-area mayor, Jorge Rodriguez -- was set on fire in the parish of La Candelaria, in northwestern Caracas.

"These people have betrayed not only the country but especially Caracas, abandoning it to insecurity and disrepair," event organizer Carlos Julio Rojas told local media.

In another opposition stronghold of Caracas, an effigy representing crime and currency devaluation were set ablaze by activists who accused the government of "incompetence" in facing the issues.

Maduro and Capriles formally start campaigning for the April 14 presidential election on Tuesday.

The burning of an effigy of Judas -- the man who betrayed Jesus -- is an ancient Easter-time Catholic tradition brought to the New World by the Spanish and Portuguese colonizers. It is still practiced in parts of Mexico, Brazil and Venezuela.