In the city of Valencia, Venezuela's industrial heartland, Rafael Lacava works the crowds with his signature hip-hop moves.

Thousands of people have come to see the government candidate for the state of Carabobo celebrating the end of his energetic campaign for gubernatorial elections this Sunday.

"Long live Chavez," he shouts from the platform. It feels like a music concert, Lacava the rock-star.

In the distance, a giant blow-up Chavez doll bobs about in the air. The former president's legacy lives on here. Many feel he is still the country's true leader.

Channelling Chavez

After the rally, Lacava shows me a picture of the crowd.

"The only other person who's managed to fill the same space is the Bolivarian Revolution" he says proudly.

"Strong personalities are important in politics," he says. "Charismatic guys are important to get votes because you need to be connected with people. In Latin America the politics are run by people who can connect with people."

Rafael Lacava's supporters will be able to cast their votes on Sunday

For Lila Gonzalez, one of the thousands of supporters at the rally, he offers a different path.

"He has an interesting way of reinterpreting Chavez, of leading the revolution," she says. "I think that if he is elected governor he will give an example to the entire Venezuelan people that we can move forward."

But even so, Mr Lacava is an unusual poster-boy for the government. Brought up in a rich family, he admits he's lived a privileged life, spending stints in the US and Italy.

When I ask him what his family makes of him being a "chavista" he says it's "complicated", adding only that they respect his political decisions.

Despite his love of the US, he has harsh words about the way Venezuela's been treated of late.



President Donald Trump has ramped up sanctions on the administration since it created a Constituent Assembly in July that has been criticised as undemocratic.

"Our country has been blocked totally in an economic way, in a political way by Western countries that run the business - the US, Europe," he tells me as he comes off the stage. "We cannot pay, we cannot get paid, we cannot bring in medicines, we cannot bring in food."

While Venezuela's crisis continues, the country feels very different to just a few months ago at the peak of the protests that killed more than 100 people.

There are no more road blockades, or "guarimbas" as they are known here.

The opposition has instead decided that the best way to put pressure on the government is through voting.

Venezuelans will choose 23 governors across the country. Currently, the opposition has just three governorships.