Residents look for their name on the voters list outside a polling station to vote in presidential elections in Caracas, Venezuela, early Sunday, April 14, 2013. Interim President Nicolas Maduro, who served as late President Hugo Chavez's foreign minister and vice president, is running against opposition candidate Henrique Capriles in Sunday's presidential election. (AP Photo/Enric Marti)AP2013
With just a few hours left until the polls close, the "Chavisimo" get-out-the vote machine is still knocking on doors.
Sunday afternoon pro-government community leader Richard Escobar was marshaling forces just outside a polling station in Petare, one of Latin America's biggest slums.
"Noon at the red rendezvous point," he repeats several times for emphasis to a man who will dispatch volunteers into steep hills jammed with brick homes to rouse laggards that they know will vote for Nicolás Maduro, the anointed political heir of Hugo Chávez, who died of cancer last month.
"We're planning at midday to comb all the stairways in the sector and knock on doors to make sure they vote," says Escobar. "Each person will go up a separate stairway."
During Chávez's 14 years in power his supporters consolidated grass-roots power in Petare, where a half million of Venezuela's 29 million people reside, by divvying out cash for soup kitchens, senior centers, nurseries and other services.
They also built up a powerful machine staffed by several hundreds of thousands that compiles lists of government workers and recipients of government largesse and makes sure they get to the polls, even if they have to be driven there.
"If we don't go up into the hills and persuade the poor to vote, we're going lose," says Escobar, who says he recognizes Maduro is just an imitation of Chávez but calls the alternative, opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, a murderer and a fascist.
Get-out-the-vote efforts are also strong in wealthy neighborhoods where Capriles is favored.
In Los Palos Grandes, an eastern Caracas district of shaded streets and pricey boutiques, groups of young people with megaphones paraded down sidewalks chanting, "You've got to vote. You've got to vote."
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.