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'I am the son of Chavez': Former bus driver rides high in Venezuela election

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Venezuela's acting president and presidential candidate Nicolas Maduro gestures during his closing campaign rally in Caracas on April 11, 2013 ahead of Sunday's presidential election.

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Opposition candidate Henrique Capriles attends a campaign rally in Barquisimeto, Lara state, on April 11, 2013.

The late Hugo Chavez's self-declared socialist revolution will be put to the test at a presidential election on Sunday that pits his chosen successor against a younger rival promising change in the nation he polarized.

Most opinion polls give his protege, acting President Nicolas Maduro, a strong lead over opposition challenger Henrique Capriles thanks to Chavez's endorsement and the surge of grief and sympathy over his death from cancer last month.

Ramon Espinosa / AP

Supporters hold a toddler wearing a Maduro-style mustache at the closing campaign rally for Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on April 11, 2013.

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Supporters of Henrique Capriles attend his closing rally in Barquisimeto on April 11, 2013.

Tomas Bravo / Reuters

Nicolas Maduro, left, watches former Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona kick a ball during Maduro's closing rally on April 11, 2013.

The candidates closed out official campaigning on Thursday with dueling rallies, both drawing hundreds of thousands of boisterous supporters. Taking a page out of Chavez's playbook, a fiery Maduro marched through the streets of the capital draped in a Venezuelan flag and called on voters to follow "commander Chavez as the spiritual guide of the fatherland."

"I am the son of Chavez," the burly 50-year-old former bus driver shouted to supporters in downtown Caracas. "I am ready to be your president."

Capriles, an energetic 40-year-old state governor, wrapped up his campaign in the nearby city of Barquisimeto. "Those who govern today have never done anything for your security. Sunday we're going to choose between life and death," he roared to the crowd. "If you want a future, you have to vote for change, for a different government." Read the full story.

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Capriles pours water on his head during his final rally on April 11, 2013.

Enric Marti / AP

A soldier looks through binoculars at people gathered along Bolivar Avenue for the closing campaign rally for ruling party presidential candidate Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on April 11, 2013.