CARACAS, Venezuela – For 14 years, Hugo Chavez has charmed them, inspired them and made them believe he is nothing short of their savior.
"Chavistas" are the lifeblood of the Venezuelan leader's leftist movement, and as he runs for re-election on Sunday, the question is whether Chavez still has enough popular appeal to stave off the toughest challenge of his presidency from youthful rival Henrique Capriles. It's a historic test for Latin America's most outspoken and divisive leader — and for his "Chavismo" movement.
For many, Chavez is the country's first president to come from humble beginnings and genuinely care about the poor. They're thankful to the former paratrooper for building public housing, expanding free universities and setting up affordable state-run grocery stores.