Venezuela’s National Electoral Council officially appointed the date of the presidential election – October 7, 2012. However, the situation in the country is heating up already. According to the Independent Social Agencies, the chances of the current president Hugo Chavez for re-election are getting smaller. The single opposition candidate Enrique Capriles has caught up with him in popularity at this junction. The winner will take the presidency for six years.
Chavez’s reaction to the strengthening of people’s sympathy for the opposition was a threat to the private banks to nationalize them if they help the opposition.
As pointed out by the Venezuelan leader, “this is the Constitution and nothing else. It would be a good idea to give private banks to the country and people. This should also be done with large companies for subversive activities against the state.”
Nevertheless, according to him, unlike the opposition which he offered to repent and behave, he was ready to leave in the event of his defeat in the elections.
Hugo has been the head of the country unchallenged since 1999, and intends to get a third consecutive presidential term. He has health issues, and is undergoing treatment for cancer.
On the other hand, the positive momentum for the opposition is the fact that it has agreed to nominate a single candidate. Thus, Chavez’s chances of winning become increasingly more elusive.
Hugo Chavez is one of the few leaders who openly challenged the U.S. and still retained power. This is despite at least two attempts to overthrow him organized by the U.S. intelligence agencies.
Now it is difficult to find a person in Venezuela indifferent towards Chavez. The population of affluent urban areas, businesses, and students are the main exponents of opposition sentiment. The poor and many of the rural population are on Hugo’s side.
Chavez is a unique figure in many ways. After the collapse of the Soviet Union many were quick to bury the socialist idea. But no such luck. Hugo said at one point: “I am convinced that the path to a new, better and possible world is not via capitalism but socialism. Capitalism leads us straight to hell. Capitalism wants to destroy the workers.”
The poor majority support Chavez because he allocated a considerable part of the windfall profits from oil sales for the construction of hospitals and schools, fight against illiteracy, agrarian reform, and so on. He also gave up one of his official residences for school. Chavez has openly renounced the presidential salary (1.2 thousand dollars per month), leaving only the retirement payment for prior military service. He gave the freed funds for scholarships to three deserving college students. Thus, for him the praised socialism is not empty words.
With the support of the poor, he started pressing businesses, including small and medium, and implemented the nationalization of some large companies in different industries and expelled most of the foreign energy companies from the country.
Chavez opponents point out that, despite high oil prices, his reign not only did not lead to the liberation of the country from the yoke of poverty and corruption, as he promised, but in some cases led to further deterioration of the socio-economic situation..
The unemployment rate in the country is one of the highest in the Western Hemisphere – 12.3 percent. It terms of the level of poverty, the country is the leader as the poor account for nearly half of the population.
Even though the outcome of the elections is not clear, according to the newspaper La Segunda, referring to the results of a survey of Consultores 21, 46 percent are ready to vote for Chavez, and 45 percent – for Capriles. The supporters of Hugo repeatedly accused his rival of accepting aid from the West
However, this did not affect his popularity significantly. On the contrary, according to local observers, Chavez is facing such attitude toward the opposition for the first time.
Chavez’s rude and arrogant campaign against Capriles, acting governor of Miranda State, is not the best way to affect his popularity. In this respect, many remember that Hugo promised to defeat him with an “election knockout,” comparing his opponent to a “pig” that does not have a chance.
His opponent is more restrained and acts under the slogan “unification of Venezuela.” Every day his idea of building “a decent future for all, regardless of whether they are right or left,” resonates with Venezuelans increasingly more.
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