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Venezuela: ‘Faces and Voices’ of an Election

This post is part of our special coverage Venezuela Elections 2012.

Portuguese photographer Eduardo Leal has published an online photographic gallery that aims to “give a voice to both sides, the supporters of [Hugo] Chávez and of [Henrique Capriles].” In ‘Faces and Voices of an Election’, Eduardo captures the thoughts and feelings of the Venezuelan people as they explain who they will vote for in the presidential election on Sunday, October 7, 2012.

He opens the introduction to his online gallery with a brief overview of the last 14 years under the government of President Hugo Chávez:

With him in power a new socialism government change[d] the face of the country, previously better known for beauty pageants and as the birthplace of Simón Bolivar, the Latin America liberator.

Social reforms were established, help to the poor increased in housing benefits and school programmes. A voice was given to the ones that never had it.

Copyright Eduardo Leal. Used with permission.

Eduardo continues explaining that, for many years, Chávez ruled with minimum opposition. This opposition was “usually composed by an elite class that for decades enjoyed the benefits of living in an oil-rich country,” he says. But Eduardo also points out that, over the years, opposition to Chávez has grown as problems become more evident.

Violence on the streets went to levels never seen, putting Caracas on the top of the list of the most dangerous cities in the world. Electricity and food shortages, raising inflation and inflammable speech’s from the President start to create new winds and opportunities to the opposition.

Copyright Eduardo Leal. Used with permission.

Eduardo goes on to discuss the current division in Venezuelan society:

The supporters of Chávez, known as Chavistas, in one side and on the other the opposition composed not only by the middle class and the elite as before, but also by common people that feels that the country needs a change.

Copyright Eduardo Leal. Used with permission.

He refers to Henrique Capriles, Chávez's opponent, as the face of “the rise of the opposition” and “the one that for the first time can challenge President Hugo Chávez.”

Copyright Eduardo Leal. Used with permission.

With this project, Eduardo wants to “create a better understanding of what the Venezuelan people think about the changes and hopes for their country.”

Visit his online gallery to see and read many more Venezuelan ‘faces and voices'.

You can also keep up with Eduardo and his work through Twitter (@Eduardoleal80), Facebook, and Tumblr.

This post is part of our special coverage Venezuela Elections 2012.

Note: We came across Eduardo's work through a post by Francisco Toro in the blog Caracas Chronicles.

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