Nervous Venezuelans stock up on supplies before election

October 6, 2012

By Helen Murphy and Andrew Cawthorne | Reuters

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelans packed supermarkets on Friday to stock up on food and other essentials in case of trouble around Sunday’s presidential vote, which was shaping up as the biggest electoral challenge of Hugo Chavez’s 14-year rule.

Energetic young state governor Henrique Capriles has gained momentum in the closing days of the campaign and he seemed to have the opposition’s best chance of unseating Chavez since the socialist president came to power in 1999.

Many among the South American oil exporting nation’s 29 million people are fretting that tight results could bring accusations of fraud and protests in an already highly polarized society awash with illegal arms.

“I have to think about my family, there could be violence, anything is possible in this country,” said housewife Dayana Alvarez, 38, among scores of shoppers buying cooking oil, powdered milk, candles and flour in a teeming Caracas supermarket.

Some stores and pharmacies have run short of staples like pasta, coffee, toilet paper, rice and milk.

“I’ve been buying a little every day. You have to be prepared. Who knows what is going to happen?” Maria Eugenia Maduro, a 38-year-old administrator at a computer company, said at another store in a wealthy district where Capriles’ support is strong and nervousness over potential trouble is high.

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