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A Venezuelan art group tries to win youth votes for Chávez

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Fernando Llano/AP

(Read caption) A mural of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez popping a wheelie, part of a series by art group Otro Beta in the run-up to the nation's presidential election.

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The dueling campaigns of President Hugo Chávez and challenger Henrique Capriles Radonski have led the candidates to every corner of Venezuela; in President Chávez's case even the basketball court.

The Otra Beta campaign, a grassroots art movement, has given the 58-year-old incumbent and his trademark red fatigues a fresh look for Election Day. Beyond rallies and motorcades, Chávez dunks, Chávez boxes, and Chávez raps in murals across Caracas. Chávez is otra beta.

"Beta is a word said in the barrios, the working class neighborhoods," says Carlos Zerpa, director of the art collective Erejcito Liberacion Comunicional, which designed a spray-painted image of El Comandante Chávez rapping in the Sabana Grande and Petare neighborhoods of Caracas. "[Beta] is an idea, a thing, something different," Mr. Zerpa says.

What’s largely different about Otra Beta’s approach is who it targets: Venezuelan youth. There are close to 2 million newly registered voters in Venezuela since its last parliamentary election in 2010, the majority of which are first time voters between the ages of 18 and 20, according to Ángel Álvarez, a data analyst and political science professor at Universidad Central de Venezuela.


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