Venezuelan front-runner says he would renew relations with U.S.

Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela's acting president and front-runner in Sunday's presidential election, waves to supporters after casting his vote in Caracas.
(Juan Barreto / AFP/Getty Images)

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Casting his vote Sunday in a Caracas slum, interim Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that if he wins Sunday’s election he is prepared to reestablish relations with the United States “in terms of equality and respect.”

“There are always problems because they are always conspiring,” Maduro said of the U.S.

During his campaign to succeed the late President Hugo Chavez, Maduro accused the U.S. of conspiring with opposition labor unions and causing electric power blackouts. He expelled two U.S. military attachés last month.

Favored to win Sunday’s contest, Maduro said he also had new evidence of a U.S.-sponsored plot to destabilize the country, details of which he said he would announce at a news conference Monday.


After voting with his wife, Celia Flores, Maduro said he was acting for the “Big Guy,” a reference to Chavez, who died March 5 after naming Maduro his political heir. Sunday’s election was to determine who would serve the remainder of Chavez’s term that runs through January 2019.

Venezuela and the U.S. have not exchanged ambassadors since 2010.

Voter turnout was described as light in the morning but apparently picked up in the afternoon when long lines began to form in many polling places.

Maduro’s opponent, Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles, voted in the upscale Mercedes neighborhood of east Caracas. Afterward, he told reporters he was running to fight alleged abuses by the government in the electoral process.

Among other things, Capriles has criticized the defense minister, Adm. Diego Molero, for endorsing Maduro and the socialist revolution.

“I have full confidence in the institutional majority of the armed forces,” Capriles said.


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