- - Monday, February 13, 2012

VENEZUELA

Capriles wins primary, faces Chavez in election

CARACAS — Henrique Capriles, a youthful state governor, won Venezuela’s first opposition presidential primary Sunday by a wide margin, emerging as the single candidate who will try to end President Hugo Chavez’s 13 years in power.

Mr. Capriles, the 39-year-old governor of Miranda state who describes himself as a center-left progressive, faces a tough task in ousting Mr. Chavez, a charismatic campaigner with a loyal following and the full powers of the state to back his candidacy in Oct. 7 elections.

Opposition election chief Teresa Albanes announced the preliminary results, saying Mr. Capriles won about 62 percent of the vote, beating Zulia state Gov. Pablo Perez by more than 30 percentage points.

Mr. Chavez’s opponents lined up to vote in many areas, surpassing most expectations with a turnout of about 2.9 million ballots cast out of Venezuela’s 18 million registered voters.

Mr. Capriles had been the front-runner in pre-election polls among five contenders, presenting a younger, energetic alternative to the 57-year-old Mr. Chavez, who has recently battled cancer.

Thousands of supporters celebrated the win outside Mr. Capriles‘ campaign headquarters, some holding small flags bearing the slogan “There is a way.” Fireworks exploded in the sky overhead.

“I aim to be the president of all Venezuelans,” he told the crowd, wearing a baseball cap emblazoned with the yellow, blue and red of Venezuela’s flag.

“It isn’t the time of lifts or rights. It’s the time of all Venezuelans.”

His four defeated rivals promptly united behind Mr. Capriles and joined him on the outdoor stage. Standing side-by-side, they grasped hands and raised them.

“In union there’s strength,” Mr. Capriles shouted.

PERU

Troops capture leader of Shining Path rebels

LIMA — Peruvian troops captured the wounded leader of a remnant of the once-powerful Shining Path rebel group, effectively dismantling a well-armed outlaw band that lived off the cocaine trade, President Ollanta Humala said over the weekend.

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