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Venezuelan election to pick Chavez's successor set for April 14

By Esprit Smith and Greg Botelho, CNN
updated 6:27 PM EST, Sat March 9, 2013
Army Lt. Col. Hugo Chavez, who led a 1992 attempted coup, speaks to reporters on March 26, 1994, after he was freed from jail. Chavez was freed after charges were dropped against him for leading the first of two attempted coups against the government of former President Carlos Andres Perez, who was later removed from office. Army Lt. Col. Hugo Chavez, who led a 1992 attempted coup, speaks to reporters on March 26, 1994, after he was freed from jail. Chavez was freed after charges were dropped against him for leading the first of two attempted coups against the government of former President Carlos Andres Perez, who was later removed from office.
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Political career of Hugo Chavez
Political career of Hugo Chavez
Political career of Hugo Chavez
Political career of Hugo Chavez
Political career of Hugo Chavez
Political career of Hugo Chavez
Political career of Hugo Chavez
Political career of Hugo Chavez
Political career of Hugo Chavez
Political career of Hugo Chavez
Political career of Hugo Chavez
Political career of Hugo Chavez
Political career of Hugo Chavez
Political career of Hugo Chavez
Political career of Hugo Chavez
Political career of Hugo Chavez
Political career of Hugo Chavez
Political career of Hugo Chavez
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Gov. Henrique Capriles "thankful" to be nominated as opposition candidate
  • Hugo Chavez died Tuesday, setting the stage for a vote to pick a new president
  • The official campaigning period is from April 2 to April 11, an election official says
  • Vice President Nicolas Maduro was sworn in Friday as acting president

(CNN) -- Venezuela's presidential election to pick a successor to the late Hugo Chavez will be held April 14, Venezuelan state television reported Saturday.

After serving 14 years as the South American nation's leader, Chavez died Tuesday at 58 after a battle with cancer.

His vice president, Nicolas Maduro, was sworn in Friday as Venezuela's acting president.

In a bombastic speech at that ceremony, Maduro appealed to the opposition to field a presidential candidate.

"May the best person win," he said. "The people will decide."

The official campaign period for the upcoming vote will be held April 2 to April 11, National Electoral Council President Tibisay Lucena said Saturday.

What is Hugo Chavez's economic legacy?
Venezuelan interim president sworn in

Miranda State Gov. Henrique Capriles said later in the day on Twitter he is "very thankful" to be nominated as the main opposition candidate. He said he will speak in the coming hours about whether he'll accept the nomination.

"All agreed that Henrique Capriles is the person to embody the alternative option of change, an alternative for everyone," Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, a leader in the opposition coalition, said Saturday of Capriles' nomination.

Earlier this week, Capriles -- who lost to Chavez in last fall's presidential election -- called Maduro's swearing in "an abuse of power."

"To be president, the people have to elect you," Capriles said. "The constitution is very clear."

Chavez was a larger-than-life figure during his time as Venezuela's president, positioning himself as a champion of the poor who cast himself as a "21st century socialist." He steered much of Venezuela's vast oil wealth to social programs to end illiteracy, provide food for the poor and allow more people access to higher education.

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Internationally, he became one of the world's most high-profile and vocal leftist leaders, as well as the United States' chief adversary in Latin America.

His policies made him a polarizing figure in Venezuela, revered by legions even as others accused him of repressing dissenting voices and turning over once independent institutions to partisan loyalists.

CNN's Mariano Castillo contributed to this report.

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