Chavez family rankles its neighbors

BARINAS, Venezuela — Hugo de los Reyes Chávez, father of Venezuela's president, is winding down a 10-year tenure as Barinas' governor. But one of President Hugo Chávez's brothers is no longer assured of winning the election in November to succeed their father.

Barinas residents have become fed up with what they see as the heavy-handed and arrogant ways of the Chávez family, analysts and average citizens alike say. Besides the governor/father, four of President Chávez's five brothers play a key role in the state. Argenis Chavez is secretary of state. Aníbal Chávez is the mayor of Sabaneta, the town where the president and his brothers were born. Adelis Chávez works for Banco Sofitasa, which handles the banking needs of the state government. Narciso Chávez is politically active behind the scenes.

Adán is the one brother who doesn't live in Barinas, but he's the president's minister of education.

The sins of the Chavez family are many. Gov. Chávez spent millions to build a sugar refinery that has yet to open, and millions more for a new soccer stadium that remains unfinished. The state government spends its money in secret and no longer seeks public bids for big infrastructure projects. Even Gov. Chávez's salary is hidden. But what rankles widely is the governor and his wife travel in a caravan of SUVs with a police escort that halts all traffic to let them pass.

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