By T/COI. Presidential Press via Correo del Orinoco
July 1 was the kick off date for Venezuela’s presidential campaigns for the upcoming October 7 elections. The incumbent candidate, President Hugo Chavez, led a lengthy caravan through two states, and gave an energetic campaign speech claiming victory was on the horizon. Opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski, who has already been campaigning for several months in violation of electoral laws, led a more subdued event in South Eastern Venezuela.
Hundreds of thousands of supporters of President Hugo Chavez took to the streets of cities around Venezuela last Sunday for the official kick off of the head of state’s reelection campaign
“Here we are with Chavez in order to have independence, a homeland and to continue building a country of inclusion, equality, and social justice”, said Communication Minister Andres Izarra during the campaign activities last weekend. With presidential elections set to take place on October 7 in the South American country, the incumbent candidate continues to a hold a considerable lead in all major polls over his conservative rival, Capriles Radonski. Billing himself as the “Candidate of the Homeland”, Chavez has been drawing a stark contrast between his advocacy of Latin American autonomy and socialism, and that of Capriles, a US-backed opposition politician who participated in Venezuela’s 2002 violent coup d’etat. According to Diosdado Cabello.
First Vice President of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), the gap between the two candidates is large and the Chavez camp must stave off any tendencies towards complacency.
“The advantage of more than 20 percentage points that President Chavez has over the candidate of the right must be turned into votes by the nation’s revolutionary sectors, avoiding triumphalism at all costs”, said Cabello.
The PSUV leader and president of Venezuela’s National Assembly also described the candidate of his party on Sunday as the “only guarantee for sovereignty, independence, peace, and tranquility”.
“It’s a relationship of love that exists between a leader and his people”, Cabello said, outlining the re-election activities taking place over the weekend.
In accordance with Venezuean law, Chavez’s presidential electoral campaign did not begin until July 1, despite tours and de facto electoral activity being carried out by the opposition candidate Capriles Radonski.
Preparations for the launch of the socialist camp began on Saturday afternoon as members of the seven million strong PSUV began assembling in public squares around the nation.
Those assemblies then took part in a caravan at 1am, beginning what the PSUV has denominated as a “Bolivarian Hurricane”, making reference to Chavez’s revolutionary movement that takes it’s name from the nation’s independence hero Simon Bolivar.
On Sunday, Chavez led another, massive caravan that began in the Plaza Bolivar of Mariara in the state of Carabobo and ended in the city of Maracay in the state of Aragua.
Addressing the thousands that had gathered to support his candidacy, the two-term incumbent called for discipline in the campaign effort and focus from his backers.
Inclusion & Sovereignty
“We need to dedicate ourselves intensely in the next hundred days and hundred nights”, he said.
The socialist leader also referred to his presidency transcending personal gain and manifesting itself in the diversity of the nation’s people:
“I’m not Chavez anymore. Chavez is the people. We’re millions. Chavez is you, woman. Chavez is you, youth. Chavez is you, child... is you, Venezuelan soldier. [Chavez] is you, fisherman, farmers, and businesspeople.”
In addition to the large crowds that came out to accompany the presidential candidate, a prominent feature of Sunday’s rally was the presence of youth and students backing the socialist leader in his re-election bid. “[Chavez] supports the people from the lower class, the real people. Not just four or five that have the possibility to by a car, pay for private universities or go abroad”, said Carmen Nunez, a 25-year old PSUV activist.
“I’m here supporting the President because he’s the best. He’s our leader of the revolution and with him I can study”, stated 18-year old Marcos Montalbo, citing the series of educational programs created by the current government.
While the social programs have been an important part of Chavez’s popularity, the question of independence from the United States and the creation of a new vision for Venezuelan society have played an important role in the head of state’s advantage in the polls.
On Sunday, the Venezuelan head of state made repeated reference to the struggle of the South American nation to choose its own development path free from outside interference. “On October 7, we’re going to knockout not only the native bourgeoisie but also the US empire that has done and continues to do so much damage to this world full of war, pain, death and suffering”, Chavez said. “I will not rest in my job of looking for and finding ways to keep giving to the people what belongs to the people... to keep generating greater levels of social justice everyday”, he exclaimed.
Source: Correo del Orinoco