CARACAS -- Marisabel Rodriguez, ex-wife of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, on Wednesday expressed confidence in her victory as an opposition candidate in the Nov. 23 state and municipal elections.
The former first lady, who divorced Chavez in 2003, told Efe that she has "every expectation" of becoming the next mayor of Iribarren, a city in the northwestern state of Lara.
Rodriguez is running on the ticket of the leftist Podemos party, which broke with Chavez over his bid to expand presidential powers through a constitutional overhaul that was defeated last December in a referendum.
The mother of Chavez's 11-year-old daughter, Rosines, emphasized the importance of the elections for "consolidating democracy," in the face of a "president who, each day, wants to assemble more power."
Rodriguez added that her campaign "has gone marvelously well," despite the alleged attempts to quash her candidacy on the part of "business sectors" and the government, she said.
"They've tried to minimize our candidacy, make it seem as if we don't exist ... because the government is not interested in having it go forward ... (But) the people accepted our proposal immediately and spontaneously," she added.
According to Rodriguez, "radical sectors" of the governing party have tried to demonize her as a traitor "without knowing that many people disappointed by Chavism are in the same situation as me because of so many unfulfilled promises."
A little more than half of Iribarren's 1.2 million residents are eligible to vote.
Rodriguez, 42, a week ago complained of alleged acts of corruption and governmental machismo in the election campaign.
She also has complained on repeated occasions that "the political space has been occupied by nepotism, inefficiency and intolerance."
Marisabel Rodriguez is among the 131 members of the assembly that in 1999 drafted Venezuela's current constitution, but she urged people to vote against the revisions proposed by her ex-husband in last year's plebiscite.
Three days after his defeat in the constitutional ballot, Chavez publicly complained that Marisabel was preventing him from visiting Rosines.
"They're the sorrows that one carries. They're putting my girl Rosines once again in the middle of a (political) hurricane," Chavez said at the time, commenting that Rodriguez brought the child with her to a polling place, where they were booed by government supporters.
Chavez announced that he would go to the courts to demand his right to visit his daughter, though he later relented, saying he didn't want Rosines in the middle of a "media show." EFE