There are six days until the April 14 presidential election in Venezuela, and everything is practically the same as it was six months ago - except for one thing. In October 2012, Hugo Chavez was a fearless leader, an extremely powerful man whose charisma (and monetary hand-outs) caused adulation among many. Today, Chavez is no longer that man. He is a God.
Driving in from the airport, it's hard to tell who exactly is running for president on April 14. There are a few posters of the opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles, smiling and not showing the signs of fatigue that surely must be wearing him thin.
But Chavez is omni-present, often dwarfing his hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro. Some of Maduro's campaign posters don't even have his face on them - they have pictures of Chavez.
Throughout the city are pictures and paintings of eyes -- the eyes of Chavez. On the sides of buildings, on T-shirts, on posters -- Chavez is always watching you.
Maduro has few of his own slogans, but his best one involves a solemn vow voters are making to Chavez, who is presumably watching them from above: "Chavez, te juro, voto por Maduro" [Chavez, I swear, I am voting for Maduro]. Notice who comes first and who comes last in that phrase.