@AP

Vote shock in Chávez homeland underscores Venezuela’s divide

Defeat of Chavez's brother sent leaders of Venezuela’s ruling party into an all-out battle to keep control of the state by retroactively disqualifying the winner and scheduling a new election.

Farmer Julio Álvarez hasn’t sold milk in about a year and a half even though the cows at his farm in northwestern Venezuela are milked at dawn every day.

Fuel shortages and rationing amid Venezuela’s economic meltdown make it impossible to transport it to market, except in 18-gallon (70-liter) plastic containers strapped to a motorcycle. So he switched to making a much-less-profitable cheese.

Fed up, Álvarez was among the many people who voted for opposition candidate Freddy Superlano in last month’s gubernatorial election in Barinas, the state that produced Hugo Chávez, founder of Venezuela’s socialist system, and has been long governed by members of the late president’s family, reports the Associated Press.

Álvarez’s vote contributed to the apparent defeat of Chávez’s brother, Argenis Chávez, a stunning result that sent leaders of Venezuela’s ruling party into an all-out battle to keep control of the state by retroactively disqualifying Superlano and scheduling a new election.

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