Maduro’s popularity dealt a severe blow when a fall in oil prices in 2014 lead to an economic crisis. Caracas: Latin America’s top oil exporter, Venezuela , is deep in an economic and political crisis brought on plummeting oil prices and marked by violent anti-government protests. Ahead of presidential elections on Sunday, in which Nicolas Maduro is seeking a second term, here is some essential background. – Hard times for Chavez heir – Maduro was propelled into power in 2013 at the death of the hugely popular Hugo Chavez, who designated his then vice president as his political heir. They were big shoes to fill, and Maduro has struggled. Chavez, first elected in 1999, mixed a larger-than-life personality with a man-of-the-people style, his popularity underpinned by oil-funded social programs. But Maduro quickly lost favor. Despite leaning on the symbols and rhetoric of Chavism, he lacked the charisma of his […]