Despite unpopularity and a deepening economic crisis, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro seems such a certainty for reelection in April that only an evangelical pastor has found the faith to run against him.
“I am the light in the darkness,” said little-known pastor Javier Bertucci, without a hint of irony, so far the only opponent willing to try to unseat the leftist leader in a presidential election which Maduro’s opponents accuse him of rigging.
Mainstream opposition parties say they are boycotting the April 22 poll because they have no guarantees they would be free and fair.
A ballot wasn’t due until December but the Constituent Assembly, an all-powerful legislature stacked with Maduro loyalists, announced in January that the date was being brought forward.
Venezuela’s Supreme Court issued a ruling that excludes the opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable from running and banned several prominent opposition figures from participating.
The United States and European Union have imposed