Tag Archives: Latin America

Pope Francis Aparecida Shrine Mass Draws Multitudes of Faithful Despite Cold Rain

By The Huffington Post News Editors

APARECIDA, Brazil — Pope Francis is urging the faithful to resist the “ephemeral idols” of money, power and pleasure during a pilgrimage to one of the most important shrines in Latin America and one of great meaning for him personally.

Francis is in Aparecida to celebrate the first public Mass of his trip to Brazil and to pray before the statue of Our Lady of Aparecida, Brazil’s patron saint. His eyes welled up with emotion as he stood silently in deep prayer before the tiny dark-skinned statue.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Huffington Post

Snowden has enough information to cause US government worst damage in history, journalist says

National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden possesses enough information to cause more damage to the United States government than “anyone else has ever had in the history” of the country, according to the journalist who first reported the former contractor’s leaked documents.

Glenn Greenwald, a columnist for The Guardian newspaper who first reported on the intelligence leaks, told Argentinian newspaper La Nacion that the U.S. government should exercise extreme care with Snowden because he has the potential to do further damage to the country.

“But that’s not his goal,” Greenwald told the newspaper. “His objective is to expose software that people around the world use without knowing what they are exposing themselves to, without consciously agreeing to surrender their rights to privacy. He has a huge number of documents that would be very harmful to the U.S. government if they were made public.”

Greenwald also told The Associated Press that disclosure of the information in the documents would “allow somebody who read them to know exactly how the NSA does what it does, which would in turn allow them to evade that surveillance or replicate it.”

Greenwald said “literally thousands” of documents taken by Snowden constitute “basically the instruction manual” for how the NSA is built.

“In order to take documents with him that proved that what he was saying was true he had to take ones that included very sensitive, detailed blueprints of how the NSA does what they do,” said Greenwald, adding that the interview took place about four hours after his last interaction with Snowden.

Greenwald believes the disclosure of the information in the documents would not prove harmful to Americans or their national security, but said Snowden has insisted they not be made public.

“I think it would be harmful to the U.S. government, as they perceive their own interests, if the details of those programs were revealed,” said Greenwald, who has previously said the documents have been encrypted to help ensure their safekeeping.

On Friday, Snowden, 30, emerged after weeks of hiding in a Moscow airport and said he was willing to meet President Vladimir Putin’s condition that he stop leaking U.S. secrets if it means Russia would grant him asylum until he can move on to somewhere in Latin America.

Snowden is believed to be stuck in the transit area of Moscow’s main international airport, where he arrived from Hong Kong on June 23. Although he has had asylum offers from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia, the logistics of reaching whichever country is complicated since his U.S. passport has been revoked.

Despite his predicament, Snowden remains “calm and tranquil,” Greenwald said.

“I haven’t sensed an iota of remorse or regret or anxiety over the situation that he’s in,” said Greenwald. “He’s of course tense and focused on his security and his short-term well-being to the best extent that he can, but he’s very resigned to the fact that things might go terribly wrong and he’s at peace with that.”

Greenwald said he worried that interest in Snowden’s personal saga had detracted from the impact of his revelations, …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

Journalist: Edward Snowden has 'blueprints' to NSA

Edward Snowden has highly sensitive documents on how the National Security Agency is structured and operates that could harm the U.S. government, but has insisted that they not be made public, a journalist close to the NSA leaker said.

Glenn Greenwald, a columnist with The Guardian newspaper who first reported on the intelligence leaks, told The Associated Press that disclosure of the information in the documents “would allow somebody who read them to know exactly how the NSA does what it does, which would in turn allow them to evade that surveillance or replicate it.”

He said the “literally thousands of documents” taken by Snowden constitute “basically the instruction manual for how the NSA is built.”

“In order to take documents with him that proved that what he was saying was true he had to take ones that included very sensitive, detailed blueprints of how the NSA does what they do,” the journalist said Sunday in a Rio de Janeiro hotel room. He said the interview was taking place about four hours after his last interaction with Snowden.

Greenwald said he believes the disclosure of the information in the documents would not prove harmful to Americans or their national security, but that Snowden has insisted they not be made public.

“I think it would be harmful to the U.S. government, as they perceive their own interests, if the details of those programs were revealed,” he said.

He has previously said the documents have been encrypted to help ensure their safekeeping.

Snowden emerged from weeks of hiding in a Moscow airport Friday, and said he was willing to meet President Vladimir Putin’s condition that he stop leaking U.S. secrets if it means Russia would give him asylum until he can move on to Latin America.

Greenwald told The AP that he deliberately avoids talking to Snowden about issues related to where the former analyst might seek asylum in order to avoid possible legal problems for himself.

Snowden is believed to be stuck in the transit area of Moscow’s main international airport, where he arrived from Hong Kong on June 23. He’s had offers of asylum from Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia, but because his U.S. passport has been revoked, the logistics of reaching whichever country he chooses are complicated.

…read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

Snowden 'chose not to release' most damaging data

Edward Snowden possesses data that could prove far more “damaging” to the US government but the fugitive leaker has chosen not to release them, said a journalist who first broke the story.

Glenn Greenwald told Argentina’s La Nacion paper that Snowden, who is currently stranded in Moscow, had only sought to alert people that information they thought was private was being exploited by US intelligence agencies.

“Snowden has enough information to cause more damage to the US government in a minute alone than anyone else has ever had in the history of the United States,” he told the paper in an interview published on Saturday.

“But that’s not his goal,” said Greenwald, who published a series of stories in Britain’s Guardian newspaper based on top-secret documents about sweeping US surveillance programmes that were leaked by Snowden.

His comments came as Russia waited Sunday for a promised request for asylum from Snowden.

The United States wants the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor returned to them to face trial over the leaks. Moscow has so far rejected that demand.

Snowden, 30, has been stranded in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, after the US withdrew his passport on his arrival from Hong Kong three weeks ago.

Snowden on Friday dramatically summoned Russian activists to his temporary base, to say he wanted to claim asylum in Russia until he could safely travel to Latin America for a permanent sanctuary.

He withdrew an initial request earlier this month after Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would have to stop releasing information embarrassing to Washington if he wanted to stay.

After Snowden made his statement Amnesty International reiterated its support for him and denounced what it described as US government persecution of him.

Human Rights Watch accused Washington of trying to block Snowden’s attempts to claim asylum and said that was in violation of his rights under international law.

Representatives from both organisations attended Snowden’s presentation.

But on Saturday, officials in Moscow said they were still waiting for Snowden’s request.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Snowden would have to submit his application to the Federal Migration Service (FMS), Russian news agencies reported.

The head of Russia’s Federal Migration Service (FMS) Konstantin Romodanovsky said Saturday they had received nothing. If they did, he added, it would examined according to the usual procedures.

Washington has reacted sharply to the possibility that Moscow might offer Snowden a safe harbour.

“We would urge the Russian government to afford human rights organisations the ability to do their work in Russia throughout Russia, not just at the Moscow transit lounge,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

“Providing a propaganda platform for Mr Snowden runs counter to the Russian government’s previous declarations of Russia’s neutrality,” he added.

US President Barack Obama spoke to Putin by telephone Friday on issues including the Snowden affair, the Kremlin and White House both said, but no further details were forthcoming.

The United States has already rebuked China for allowing Snowden to leave for Russia from Hong Kong.

At his meeting with activists, Snowden vowed he did not want to harm the United States.

It was …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

US warns Moscow as Snowden seeks asylum in Russia

US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden said he wanted to claim asylum in Russia until he can travel on to Latin America, as Washington kept up the pressure with a warning to Moscow.

In his first encounter with the outside world since becoming stranded at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport three weeks ago, Snowden met Russian rights activists and lawyers.

He is still looking for a safe haven from US attempts to extradite him to face espionage charges for disclosing extensive American surveillance activities.

Washington warned Moscow against allowing Snowden to stay in the country and continue his embarrassing revelations.

President Barack Obama spoke by phone with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Friday, as previously scheduled. No details were released but the White House had said Snowden would be discussed.

“Providing a propaganda platform for Mr Snowden runs counter to the Russian government’s previous declarations of Russia’s neutrality,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

“It’s also incompatible with Russian assurances that they do not want Mr Snowden to further damage US interests.”

Carney renewed a US call on Russia to expel Snowden so that he could be returned to American soil to face trial for leaking US national security secrets.

Amateur footage aired on television showed Snowden dressed in a grey shirt and looking relaxed as he read out a statement.

“I announce today my formal acceptance of all offers of support or asylum I have been extended and all others that may be offered in the future,” he told his audience, which included representatives from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

“That moral decision to tell the public about spying that affects all of us has been costly, but it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets,” said the 30-year-old former National Security Agency contractor.

Snowden, who has no official travel documents, said he hoped Russia would accept his renewed asylum request so he could then work out a way to travel legally to Latin America.

Although most countries to which he has applied for asylum have rejected his request, Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua have all indicated they would be open to offering Snowden a safe haven.

Human Rights Watch senior researcher Tanya Lokshina, who attended Friday’s meeting, said the US embassy in Moscow had asked her to pass a message to Snowden.

The message was that they did not consider him a whistleblower and he had broken the law, she said.

But Snowden, in his statement, said the US intelligence service’s covert surveillance activities violated not just the US constitution but the UN declaration of human rights.

In denouncing what he saw as illegal activities, “I did what I believed right…”, he added.

His statement was posted online by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

Latin American leaders defended their right to offer asylum to Snowden at a summit of the regional bloc Mercosur held in the Uruguayan capital Montevideo.

That included the right of safe passage for those granted asylum to the country offering them refuge, said a Mercosur statement.

Mercosur also condemned an incident earlier this month when several European countries denied airspace to Bolivian President …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

Did Berkshire's Poaching Just Send AIG Back Into the Abyss?

By Jessica Alling, The Motley Fool

Filed under:

Executives move from from one company to another all the time — that’s a normal proceeding of the business world. But when several high-ranking executives leave all at once for the same company, we’re often seeing a piece of a larger puzzle. That’s what we saw this past Friday, when it was announced that four top employees were defecting from AIG to join the team at Berkshire Hathaway .

The moves pose several questions for AIG investors: Are the people in the know fleeing because they know something we don’t? Does this leave AIG vulnerable? How will the company move forward? Let’s look at the people that left, how it may effect AIG, and what you should consider for your investment.

Name that executive!
A quick lineup of the defecting executives gives you a good idea of how Berkshire will be using their talent:

  • Peter Eastwood, head of AIG‘s U.S. property-casualty operations.
  • David Bresnahan, president of  Lexington Insurance, the excess and surplus insurance division of AIG.
  • Sanjay Godhwani, president for Latin America and the Caribbean for AIG‘s property-casualty operations.
  • David Fields, another top property-casualty executive.

Berkshire is ranked seventh overall in the property-casualty providers as of year-end 2012, with 3.88% of the market share, while AIG is ranked fifth with 4.58%. So with three of the new employees heading major P&C units for AIG, their knowledge will surely help Berkshire to expand where necessary. The final member, Bresnahan, led the excess and surplus operations — one of AIG‘s most successful segments, with the company dominating the market with an estimated 20% share. Berkshire’s E&S operations are only a fraction of AIG‘s, with an estimated 1.6% of the $25 billion market.

So with that info, we can see what Berkshire’s objectives might be, but where does that leave AIG? The company itself has stated that it possesses a “deep bench,” with lots of talented and capable people willing to step up and take over added responsibilities after the departures. Since the business operations of the P&C and E&S divisions are so established, there is little to fear that the whole house of cards will fall because of the changes in personnel. But regardless, the move is a big hit to AIG whether it realizes it or not.

It’s all a matter of perception
In investing, perception of a company can oftentimes sway someone’s opinion enough to make or abstain from a buy. With AIG, the company’s involvement in the financial crisis has created a lasting impression on investors that the company is bad, weak, deceiving, and the like. And with the news that four top players are leaving, investors’ perception of the company may be sustaining that impression further.

If you note the timing of this news, it’s easy to guess that these executives stayed with AIG throughout the resolution of the bailout and now think it’s an appropriate time to seek new positions since the company has paid off all of the governmental money. In

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Leftist priests: Francis can fix church 'in ruins'

Liberation theologian Leonardo Boff says Pope Francis has what it takes to fix a church “in ruins.”

Previous popes tried to silence the Brazilian leftist, but Boff says the former Argentine cardinal who became pope last month has both the vigor and tenderness to create a new spiritual world.

Boff told a packed room at the Buenos Aires book fair Saturday that with Francis, the Vatican’s campaign to stamp out liberation theology is over. He says Francis is anything but a closed-minded conservative.

Boff says “Pope Francis comes with the perspective that many of us in Latin America share… our churches work together to support universal causes, causes like human rights, from the perspective of the poor, the destiny of humanity that is suffering.”

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox World News

Conservatives likely to retake power in Paraguay

Paraguay is poised to elect as its new president a conservative candidate from the party that backed strongman Alfredo Stroessner during 35 years of iron rule, returning the executive branch to the wealthy interests that have traditionally dominated this poor South American nation despite the election of a leftist ex-bishop in 2008.

Sunday’s vote is also an important milestone in Paraguay‘s attempt to regain the international acceptance it lost when neighboring nations objected to the fast-track removal of President Fernando Lugo. The expedited impeachment of Lugo last year conformed to Paraguay‘s constitution but was criticized by its neighbors as an “institutional coup” that threatened democracies around the region.

Regional blocs such as Mercosur suspended Paraguay‘s membership following Lugo’s ouster, but all signs indicate that Paraguay‘s neighbors will re-engage the country after the election to replace Federico Franco, who served out Lugo’s term and is not eligible to seek a new one.

Most polls indicate that tobacco magnate and soccer executive Horacio Cartes of the Colorado Party, which held power for 61 years before losing to Lugo at the polls, will win handily over his chief rival, Sen. Efrain Alegre of Franco’s Liberal Party.

A handful of candidates trail them, including Anibal Carrillo of the leftist Guasu Front coalition led by Lugo, who is seeking to return to politics as a senator.

A presidential candidate can be declared winner with a plurality, and there is no runoff.

Some likened the vote to the 2009 presidential election in Honduras that gave other nations reason to re-embrace the Central American country five months after President Manuel Zelaya was grabbed by soldiers while still in his pajamas and flown to Costa Rica.

“The election in Honduras ultimately was important,” said Gregory Weeks, a political scientist specializing in Latin America at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. “It was contested and there might have been controversy, but what it did was it got the country sufficiently past the crisis to allow it to be accepted by all the rest of the region again.”

Whoever wins in Paraguay will have to deal with problems that have been endemic for decades in this landlocked nation of about 6.2 million people, most notably the yawning gulf between the haves and have-nots.

Paraguay is South America’s No. 3 producer of soy,

From: http://feeds.foxnews.com/~r/foxnews/world/~3/h9F-0S00j3Y/

Xbox Live Gold Free This Weekend

Microsoft is offering Xbox Live Gold for free this weekend in the United States, Canada, Latin America and Japan. According to Xbox Live’s Major Nelson, beginning today and running until Monday, April 22nd at 1:00 p.m. Eastern (10:00 a.m. Pacific), all Xbox owners will be upgraded to Gold regardless of their current status.

During the weekend, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Assassin’s Creed 3 and Far Cry 3 will all offer double XP, and players will also be able to enter a tournament with FIFA 13, NBA 2K13, Madden 13 and NHL 13.

Andrew Goldfarb is IGN’s news editor. Keep up with pictures of the latest food he’s been eating by following @garfep on Twitter or garfep on IGN.

Continue reading…

From: http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/04/19/xbox-live-gold-free-this-weekend

Apple's iOS Mobile Ad Metrics Dominates Android

By Chuck Jones, Contributor

MoPub is an ad-serving platform for mobile applications that allows advertisers to bid on ad inventory from thousands of iOS and Android smartphone application providers/suppliers.  Over 230 Tier 1 brand advertisers (up from 180 last quarter) and 58 of the top 100 largest advertisers use MoPub.  The application providers come from the US, Europe, Asia and Latin America with 45 billion monthly ad impressions (up from 30 billion last quarter) across two dozen verticals.

From: http://www.forbes.com/sites/chuckjones/2013/04/18/apples-ios-mobile-ad-metrics-dominates-android/

Occidental Petroleum 1st Quarter 2013 Results to be Announced April 25, 2013

By Business Wirevia The Motley Fool

Filed under:

Occidental Petroleum 1st Quarter 2013 Results to be Announced April 25, 2013

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Occidental Petroleum Corporation (NYS: OXY) will hold a conference call on Thursday, April 25, 2013, following the release of its first quarter 2013 financial results. The conference call, which will begin at 11:30 a.m. Eastern, may be accessed by calling 800-473-6123 (for international callers dial 973-582-2710). The conference call also can be heard live on the company’s website, www.oxy.com.

All remarks made during the conference call will be current at the time of the call and may not be updated to reflect subsequent material developments.

First quarter 2013 financial results will be available through the Investor Relations section of the company’s website concurrent with the SEC filing. An archived edition of the conference call also will be available on the website within several hours after the call is completed.

About Oxy

Occidental Petroleum Corporation (OXY) is an international oil and gas exploration and production company with operations in the United States, the Middle East region and Latin America. Oxy is one of the largest U.S. oil and gas companies, based on equity market capitalization. Oxy’s wholly owned subsidiary OxyChem manufactures and markets chlor-alkali products and vinyls. Oxy is committed to safeguarding the environment, protecting the safety and health of employees and neighboring communities and upholding high standards of social responsibility in all of the company’s worldwide operations.

Occidental Petroleum Corporation
Media
Melissa E. Schoeb
310-443-6504
melissa_schoeb@oxy.com
or
Investors
Chris Stavros
212-603-8184
chris_stavros@oxy.com
On the web: www.oxy.com

KEYWORDS:   United States  North America  California

INDUSTRY KEYWORDS:

The article Occidental Petroleum 1st Quarter 2013 Results to be Announced April 25, 2013 originally appeared on Fool.com.

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From: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/04/18/occidental-petroleum-1st-quarter-2013-results-to-b/

GlaxoSmithKline: Buy, Sell, or Hold?

By Zarr Pacificador, The Motley Fool

Filed under:

LONDON — I’m always searching for shares that can help ordinary investors like you make money from the stock market.

Right now, I am trawling through the FTSE 100 and giving my verdict on every member of the blue-chip index.

I hope to pinpoint the very best buying opportunities in today’s uncertain market, as well as highlight those shares I feel you should hold… and those I feel you should sell!

I’m assessing every share on five different measures. Here’s what I’m looking for in each company:

  1. Financial strength: low levels of debt and other liabilities;
  2. Profitability: consistent earnings and high profit margins;
  3. Management: competent executives creating shareholder value;
  4. Long-term prospects: a solid competitive position and respectable growth prospects, and;
  5. Valuation: an under-rated share price.

A look at GlaxoSmithKline
Today I’m evaluating GlaxoSmithKline  , a British global pharmaceutical company, which currently trades at 1550 pence. Here are my thoughts:

1. Financial strength: The company is in solid financial health with net debt of only 2 times operating profits and interest obligations covered a comfortable 10 times. Also, the company is a cash machine and consistently converts 17% of revenues into free cash flow yearly. Over the past three years, free cash flow has averaged more than 4 billion pounds per year.  

2. Profitability: In the last 10 years, revenues per share and earnings-per-share growth have barely outpaced inflation compounding by 4% and 3% per year, respectively, but dividends per share growth has been solid at 7% per year. Operating margins have been consistently around 30% while the 10-year average return on equity has been a remarkable 70% per year.

3. Management: Sir Andrew Witty succeeded Dr. Jean-Pierre Garnier as the company’s CEO in May 2008. Under his leadership, the company has returned a total of 25 billion pounds to shareholders through dividends and share buybacks, improved R&D returns from 11% in 2010 to 12% in 2012, and generated cost-savings of 2.5 billion pounds annually.  

4. Long-term prospects: GlaxoSmithKline is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world with a market capitalization of 76 billion pounds and annual revenues of 26 billion pounds. For the past five years, to mitigate the effects of the patent cliff and global financial crisis, the company shifted its focus into higher growth areas like biopharmaceuticals, vaccines, consumer health care, and emerging markets while restructuring its U.S. and European operations. Although the U.S. and Europe still account for the bulk of the company’s revenues, at 32% and 28%, respectively, sales from Japan, Latin America and Asia-Pacific now account for 40% of the total group revenues. Furthermore, under its new operating model, R&D productivity and returns have improved — the company is on target on achieving a 14% return on R&D by 2014 and has a total of 15 new vaccines and medicines it could potentially launch over the next three years.

5. Valuation: GlaxoSmithKline’s shares are trading at a trailing price-to-earnings ratio of 14, slightly above its 10-year P/E average of 13 and the sector P/E of 12.5. It also sports a current dividend yield of 5%, twice covered.

My

From: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/04/15/glaxosmithkline-buy-sell-or-hold/

Chavez heir squeaks to win in Venezuela election

Hugo Chavez’s hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro, won a razor-thin victory in Sunday’s special presidential election, edging the opposition’s leader by only about 300,000 votes, electoral officials announced.

Maduro’s stunningly close victory over Henrique Capriles came after a campaign in which the winner promised to carry on Chavez’s self-proclaimed socialist revolution while the challenger’s main message was that Chavez’s 14-year regime put Venezuela on the road to ruin.

Maduro, acting president since Chavez’s death, held a double-digit advantage in opinion polls just two weeks ago, but electoral officials said he got just 50.7 percent of the votes to 49.1 percent for Capriles with nearly all ballots counted.

Chavistas set off fireworks and blasted car horns as they cruised downtown Caracas in jubilation.

At Capriles’ campaign headquarters, people hung their heads quietly as the results were announced by an electoral council stacked with government loyalists. Many started crying; others just stared at TV screens in disbelief.

“I can’t believe this. This can’t be happening. The votes should all be recounted to be 100 percent sure who won,” said Jenny Morales, 26, a volunteer who handed out posters and leaflets during the campaign.

The mood lightened after another electoral council director, Vicente Diaz, proposed an audit of the vote.

There was no immediate word from Capriles, but Maduro addressed a crowd from the presidential palace after winning a six-year term. In a booming voice, he called his victory further proof that Chavez “continues to be invincible, that he continues to win battles.”

He said that Capriles had called him before the results were announced to suggest a “pact” and that Maduro refused.

Maduro, a longtime foreign minister to Chavez, rode a wave of sympathy for the charismatic leader to victory, pinning his hopes on the immense loyalty for his boss among millions of poor beneficiaries of government largesse and the powerful state apparatus that Chavez skillfully consolidated.

Capriles’ main campaign weapon was to simply emphasize “the incompetence of the state” in handling the world’s largest oil reserves.

Analyst David Smilde at the Washington Office on Latin America think tank predicted the victory would prove pyrrhic and make Maduro extremely vulnerable.

From: http://feeds.foxnews.com/~r/foxnews/world/~3/q5ZFkb943-s/

Chavez get-out-the-vote machine knocks on doors

It’s nearly midday Sunday and pro-government community leader Richard Escobar is marshaling get-out-the vote forces just outside a polling station in his piece of Petare, one of Latin America‘s biggest slums.,

“Noon at the red rendezvous point,” he repeats several times for emphasis to a man who will dispatch volunteers into steep hills jammed with brick homes to rouse laggards that they know will vote for Nicholas Maduro, the anointed political heir of Hugo Chavez, who died of cancer last month.

“We’re planning at midday to comb all the stairways in the sector and knock on doors to make sure they vote,” says Escobar. “Each person will go up a separate stairway.”

During Chavez‘s 14 years in power his supporters consolidated grass-roots power in Petare, where a half million of Venezuela‘s 29 million people reside, by divvying out cash for soup kitchens, senior centers, nurseries and other services.

They also built up a powerful machine staffed by several hundreds of thousands that compiles lists of government workers and recipients of government largesse and makes sure they get to the polls, even if they have to be driven there.

“If we don’t go up into the hills and persuade the poor to vote, we’re going lose,” says Escobar, who says he recognizes Maduro is just an imitation of Chavez but calls the alternative, opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, a murderer and a fascist.

Get-out-the-vote efforts are also strong in wealthy neighborhoods where Capriles is favored.

In Los Palos Grandes, an eastern Caracas district of shaded streets and pricey boutiques, groups of young people with megaphones paraded down sidewalks chanting, “You’ve got to vote. You’ve got to vote.”

From: http://feeds.foxnews.com/~r/foxnews/world/~3/Cs624PrN4Vg/

Lead narrows for Chavez heir amid crime, shortages

Nicolas Maduro hopes to ride a tide of grief into Venezuela‘s special presidential election Sunday and win voters’ endorsement to succeed the late Hugo Chavez, the adored larger-than-life leader who chose him to carry on the messy, unfinished Chavista revolution.

That will mean inheriting multiple problems left behind by Chavez, troubles that have been harped on by opposition challenger Henrique Capriles.

Although he’s still favored, Maduro’s early big lead in opinion polls sharply narrowed in the past week as Venezuelans grappled with a litany of woes many blame on Chavez’s mismanagement of the economy and infrastructure: chronic power outages, double-digit inflation, food and medicine shortages. Add to that rampant crime — Venezuela has among the world’s highest homicide and kidnapping rates.

Maduro, a former union activist with close ties to Cuba‘s leaders who was Chavez’s longtime foreign minister, hinted at feeling overwhelmed during his closing campaign speech to hundreds of thousands of red-shirted faithful Thursday.

“I need your support. This job that Chavez left me is very difficult,” said Maduro, who became acting president after Chavez succumbed to cancer March 5. “This business of being president and leader of a revolution is a pain in the neck.”

Capriles, a 40-year-old state governor who lost to Chavez in October’s regular presidential election, hammered away at the ruling socialists’ record of unfulfilled promises as he crisscrossed Venezuela. His campaign libretto included reading aloud a list of unfinished road, bridge and rail projects before asking what goods were scarce on store shelves.

Maduro, 50, hewed to a simple message, a theme of the October presidential campaign: “I am Chavez. We are all Chavez.” He promised to expand a myriad of anti-poverty programs created by the man he called the “Jesus Christ of Latin America” and funded by $1 trillion in oil revenues during Chavez’s 14-year rule.

His campaign mobilized a state bureaucracy of nearly 2.7 million workers that was built up by Chavez while he cemented a near-monopoly on power, using loyalists in the judiciary to intimidate and diminish the opposition, particularly its broadcast media.

There are no easy answers for the troubles besetting Venezuela even though the country has the world’s largest oil reserves.

Many factories in the heartland operate at half capacity because strict currency controls leave them short of the hard

From: http://feeds.foxnews.com/~r/foxnews/world/~3/cfjLtbgwmDQ/