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Jewish Journal

Son of Shoah survivors to challenge Chavez

JTA

Posted on Feb. 13, 2012 at 11:15 am

Gov. Henrique Capriles Radonski, pictured here at a ceremony to hand out vouchers for rebuilding rain-damaged homes, has emerged as a leading figure among the opposition to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, even as he has faced anti-Semitic barbs. Photo by Jasmina Kelemen

Gov. Henrique Capriles Radonski, pictured here at a ceremony to hand out vouchers for rebuilding rain-damaged homes, has emerged as a leading figure among the opposition to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, even as he has faced anti-Semitic barbs. Photo by Jasmina Kelemen

Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski, the grandson of Holocaust survivors, will challenge President Hugo Chavez in upcoming elections.

Capriles, 39, governor of the Miranda state, won a primary Sunday with 61 percent of the vote to become the unity candidate against Chavez, who has been in office for 13 years. Some 3 million voters participated in the country’s first-ever primary ahead of the Oct. 7 election.

Though Capriles’ maternal grandmother is Jewish, he was raised Catholic and he describes himself as a fervent Catholic.

“Because of my mother and grandmother, for Jews I’m Jewish, but I’m Catholic,” Capriles told JTA last year in an interview.

Capriles has been the target of anti-Semitic attacks. In 2009, pro-government supporters dressed in red surrounded the Governor’s House and painted swastikas on the yellow outer walls. During the governor’s race in 2008, government-aligned media described Capriles as a member of the “Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie” and “genetically fascist.”

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