Sparks fly in short campaign in Venezuela

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In this March 21, 2013 photo, released by Miraflores Presidential Press Office, Venezuela’s acting President Nicolas Maduro fist bumps a worker of the state-run oil company PDVSA during a visit to the Orinoco oil belt in Venezuela. Maduro gathered hundreds of civil servants at the facility owned by PDVSA to ask support for his candidacy in the upcoming presidential elections to replace the late Hugo Chavez. The late leader transformed this country's enormous federal bureaucracy into nothing less than a political arm of the government, say former government workers and experts, with partisan loyalties trumping technical competence in hiring and ministries turning out thousands of civil servants for election year rallies. (AP Photo/Miraflores Presidential Office)CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — It's Holy Week in Venezuela, a time when millions traditionally take a welcome pause from work and politics to go on vacation. Yet that hasn't stopped Venezuela's time-pressed presidential candidates from sprinting through the holidays toward an April 14 election to replace the late Hugo Chavez, as they try to define both themselves and each other within weeks.

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