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Venezuela municipal elections a test for Chavez heir

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro faced a big test Sunday as municipal polls, seen as a referendum on his performance amid soaring crime, high inflation and household shortages, closed. Maduro, the handpicked heir of leftist icon Hugo Chavez, was narrowly elected to office in April, one month after his popular predecessor died of cancer. Balloting ended at 6:00 pm (2230 GMT) to pick 337 mayors and more than 2,000 city councilors. The opposition, which now controls about 50 municipalities, is vying to double that number.

Venezuela municipal elections a test for Chavez heir

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro faced a big test Sunday in municipal polls seen as a referendum on his performance amid soaring crime, high inflation and household shortages. Maduro, the handpicked heir of leftist icon Hugo Chavez, was narrowly elected to office in April, one month after his popular predecessor died of cancer. Balloting began at 6:00 am (1030 GMT) to pick 337 mayors and more than 2,000 city councilors. The opposition, which now controls about 50 municipalities, is vying to double that number.

Venezuela municipal elections a test for Maduro

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro faced a big test Sunday in municipal polls that the opposition say are a referendum on his performance amid soaring crime, high inflation and household shortages. Voting began at 1100 GMT to elect mayors to 337 municipalities and officials to more than 2,000 city councils. The opposition, which currently controls around 50 municipalities, is aiming to double that number.

Power outage plunges most of Venezuela into darkness

By Diego Ore and Andrew Cawthorne CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's second massive power outage of the year plunged much of the nation into darkness on Monday night, prompting renewed talk of sabotage from President Nicolas Maduro's government and cries of incompetence from its foes. Power went off in Caracas and other cities around the country soon after 8 p.m. local time (0030 GMT), to the intense annoyance of residents and commuters.

Venezuelan president blames power outage on opposition

CARACAS, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- A massive power outage struck multiple states in Venezuela Monday night, and President Nicolas Maduro suggested it might be an act of sabotage by the opposition. The blackout took place shortly after 8 p.m. local time (0000 GMT) in 10 states, including the capital, and lasted for almost one hour, resulting in interruptions to subway and airport operations. Maduro described the cause as unusual, saying it was most likely an opposition conspiracy to stoke up public discontent against the government before the Dec. 8 national municipal elections.

Violence intrudes on Venezuelan election campaign

Caracas, Nov 27 (EFE).- An opposition city council candidate was gunned down in the western state of Zulia hours before the bodyguard of a ruling-party mayoral hopeful was slain here Wednesday ahead of Venezuela's Dec. 8 municipal elections. Jose Chirinos, who sought a seat on the council in Baralt, Zulia, was shot Tuesday night by two assailants on a motorcycle as he left a radio station after an interview, the MUD opposition alliance said. A radio host and a young woman were wounded in the attack, but are listed in stable condition at a nearby hospital, MUD said.

Venezuela opposition leader says his vehicle was attacked

Caracas, Nov 26 (EFE).- Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles said it was only the intervention of a group of motorcyclists that prevented unidentified assailants from setting fire to his vehicle in the western city of Maracay. "They tried to set fire to our vehicle when we were going to Maracay!" the governor of Miranda state said on Twitter. Defeated in last April's presidential elections, Capriles heads the electoral campaign for candidates of the MUD opposition alliance in the Dec. 8 municipal elections.

Venezuelan opposition marches, leader's aide arrested

By Daniel Wallis and Efrain Otero CARACAS (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of opposition supporters marched in Venezuela on Saturday to pressure President Nicolas Maduro's government before December 8 local elections after their leader denounced the pre-dawn arrest of an aide. The vote for control of 335 municipalities will be the first big test of Maduro's political strength after he narrowly defeated his opposition rival, Henrique Capriles, to win a presidential election in April.

Capriles dares Maduro to jail him, calls supporters into the streets

Caracas, Nov 23 (EFE).- Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles dared President Nicolas Maduro to imprison him and not his supporters, after confirming that one of them was arrested Friday night under orders of the chief executive, whom he called a coward. "Come after me because here I am. I've told you more than once: You want to put me in jail? Go ahead!," he said in his challenge to Maduro during a speech in Caracas on a day of street protests against the president.

Venezuela arrests looters, store bosses in 'economic war'

By Andrew Cawthorne CARACAS (Reuters) - President Nicolas Maduro's government announced arrests of both store managers and looters on Sunday as part of what it calls an "economic war" in Venezuela between the socialist state and unscrupulous businessmen. In a major pre-Christmas campaign reminiscent of the late President Hugo Chavez's dramatic style, Maduro has sent soldiers to "occupy" one chain of electronics stores and inspectors into scores of others to check for price-gouging.
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