Hugo Chavez loyalists blew bugles in a wake up call for voters on Sunday as the Venezuelan leader faced the biggest electoral challenge yet to his socialist rule from a young rival tapping into discontent over crime and cronyism.

Henrique Capriles, a centrist state governor, edged toward the still-popular Chavez in final polls thanks to a vigorous campaign that united the opposition and made him its best chance of ending the president’s 14-year tenure.

Chavez has used record oil revenue to support ideological allies around the world while preaching a fiercely anti-American line, so the election is being watched eagerly from the United States to Belarus and Iran.

Queues formed at some polling centers long before they opened, and despite a few delays voting was going smoothly.

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