Oct 02 2012
Hugo Chavez Faces Reelection in Venezuela, Opposition Candidate Capriles Represents Pro-US, Neo-Liberal Politics
On Sunday the Venezuelan people will decide whether to grant their President, Hugo Chavez, who has ruled Venezuela for almost 14 years, another six years in office. Chavez is hoping to defeat his opponent, Henrique Capriles Radonski in what many news reports are calling the closest election since Chavez first took office. Chavez came to power in 1999 with 56.4% of the popular vote. The 58 year old Chavez, who has been battling cancer, is campaigning on a promise to expand his socialist platform to help more poor and working class families in the country.
His rival, thirty nine year old Capriles, rose through the ranks in Venezuela as a “market friendly” lawyer, practicing in both public and private sectors. He won against expected favorite Diosdalla Cabello, when he ran against him for governor of Miranda, Venezuela’s second most populous state. Capriles stood out from other presidential candidates in February’s primary, where he won 62% of the popular vote.
Chavez has criticized Capriles’ politics as “neoliberal” and aligned with the United States and, in fact, Capriles has promised a massive shift in the country’s foreign policy by moving Venezuelan loyalties away from Russia, Iran and China. Capriles has also vowed to rethink Chavez’ current policy of funding social services, like subsidized food programs and cash payments to poor families using oil revenues.
Poll numbers between the two candidates are close but Chavez appears to have a close lead. However just two days ago, three of Capriles’ supporters were gunned down at a rally in Chavez’ home state of Barinas. Capriles has blamed members of Chavez’ party for the murders.
GUEST: Gregory Wilpert, co-founder of venezuelanalysis.com, author of Changing Venezuela by Taking Power: The History and Policies of the Chávez Government