Venezuelan socialists rally for the election

Support for interim president Nicholas Maduro is strong in the country's poor areas.


Caracas, Venezuela - Candidates and their supporters are already trading fierce barbs ahead of Venezuela's presidential election on April 14. 

Thousands of supporters of interim president Nicolas Maduro have been rallying across the country, while backers of opposition leader Henrique Capriles are trying to change the momentum of the campaign. Most opinion polls predict an easy victory for Maduro, a former bus driver and annointed heir of popular deceased President Hugo Chavez. 

In recent weeks, the candidates have been issuing pointed insults, with Maduro apparently alluding to the sexuality of his rival, who is single, during political rallies. "I do have a woman, you know? I do like women!" Maduro said as his supporters cheered.

Maduro has also said that Capriles owns a $5m apartment in New York city, insinuating that the lawyer is involved in shady dealings.

Capriles, for his part, blasted Maduro for his handling of his predecessor's health crisis. "Nicolas lied to this country for months," the opposition leader said. "You are exploiting someone who is no longer here because you have nothing else to offer the country."

Maduro is predicted to win the next election, based on the endorsement of Chavez who has assumed near mythical status since his death on March 5. "We the people feel very sad for having lost such a great man," Angel Mejia, a government supporter, told Al Jazeera.  "He opened our eyes and helped unite Latin America."