Hugo Chavez is dead. The controversial and iconic president of Venezuela has lost his battle to cancer and now two men have a possible path the presidency. The first, Nicholas Maduro – Chavez’s Vice-President and member of the Bolivarian Revolution. The other, Henrique Capriles Radonski — opposition leader and elected mayor of Caracas.
Here’s what you need to know about the man-who-would-be president, Henrique Capriles Radonski.
1. Capriles Ran Against Chavez in October
Back in the October election, Capriles challenged Chavez but lost with an 11% margin. Although only 40 years old, Capriles has had a long stint in politics. In 1998, at the age of 25, he was elected into Parliament becoming the youngest elected member. Two years later he was elected mayor of Baruta, a suburb in Caracas.
2. He Was Imprisoned in 2002.
In 2002, Capriles became involved in protests outside the Cuban Embassy, which resulted in the brief ouster of Chavez from office. Once Chavez returned to power, Capriles was put in jail. Capriles spent 4 months locked up before being acquitted of all charges. He was then reelected mayor in 2004 with 80% of approval. The U.S. Department of State referenced Capriles’ case in its 2008 Human Rights report, calling his arrest “a denial of a fair and public trial.”
3. He Has a Jewish Heritage and Was Subject to Anti-Antisemitism
Capriles’ grandparents were Polish Holocaust survivors, but he describes himself as a “fervent Catholic,” and became more spiritual while imprisoned in 2004. Regardless of his actual religious inclination, Capriles was subject to anti-semetic slurs from Chavez and Chavez supporters during his presidential campaign. Chavez was quoted saying that Capriles had a “terrible heritage”, referring specifically to his Jewish grandparents. In 2009 Capriles’ government house was surrounded by a mob, led by a pro-Chávez mayor, chanting “Nazi fascist” and spray-painting red Swastikas on the walls.
4. He Wants to Change Venezuela’s Foreign Policy
During the October election, Capriles said that he would move Venezuela away from relations with countries like Belarus and Iran. He said he would accelerate the peace process between Colombian rebel group FARC and the Colombian government.
5. Chavez Called Him a “Pig”
Chavez reverted to dehumanizing his opponents countless times and Capriles isn’t unscathed. Hugo Chavez called Capriles “a pig” during their electoral campaign.
“Why do you hide, majunche, you have an ass of a pig, ears of a pig, you snore like a pig, you’re a pig you’re a pig,” Chavez stated in a televised
6. His Economic Policies Would Resemble Brazil’s
Capriles reportedly favors former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s mix of market-friendly economic policies combined with income redistribution. Mr Capriles describes his policies as “centrist” and “humanist”
7. He Emphasizes the Importance of Education
As governor, Capriles has made improvements to Miranda’s educational system a top priority.
8. He’s Single
Chavistas have accused Capriles of being gay since he has never been married. He has refuted all of these allegations. Capriles most public ex-girlfriend is Venezuelan actress Erika de la Vega.
9. He is Mayor of Caracas
Capriles on by a landslide vote and beat Hugo Chavez’ right-hand man Diosdado Cabello.
10. Capriles Has Praised Some of the Policies of Hugo Chavez
Capriles has been vocal about supporting some of Hugo Chavez’ policies. Particularly Chavez’ misiones or “missions”. These missions are social programs that promote literacy, health and education. Capriles has stated that he if elected he would make these missions part of Venezuelan law.