Chavez showcases projects before Venezuela vote

Chavez inaugurated a monorail, then inspected extensions to the subway system and a cable car in poor areas of Caracas typical of his power-base.

Chavez showcases projects before Venezuela vote

World Bulletin / News Desk

President Hugo Chavez showed off new infrastructure projects on Saturday, while opposition candidate Henrique Capriles accused him of wasting Venezuela's money on foreign allies in frenetic campaigning before the Oct. 7 election.

Despite two bouts of cancer since mid-2011, Chavez, 58, has declared himself completely cured and is trying to recapture some of his old panache and energy on the campaign trail to win a new six-year term in the South American OPEC member.

On Saturday, he inaugurated a monorail, then inspected extensions to the subway system and a cable car in poor areas of Caracas typical of his power-base.

The projects cost a combined $2.5 billion.

"When a government like ours invests hundreds of millions of dollars, we are not thinking about making money. That's the difference with capitalism," Chavez said in Petare, one of the largest slums in Latin America.

"The loser will have to go to the moon and see if he can govern a rock there because here the bourgeoisie are never coming back," Chavez quipped of Capriles, whom he portrays as representing a heartless, right-wing elite.

Later, in Guarenas town outside Caracas, the president drove through crowds in an open vehicle dubbed by some the "Chavez-mobile." He sang, danced and gave an exuberant speech in a show of energy few would have expected just months ago when he was publicly praying to be saved from cancer.

Capriles, a 40-year-old state governor who has a centrist political vision and sees Brazil's mix of free-market economics and strong welfare polices as his model, has been crisscrossing Venezuela all year in an exhausting campaign.

Addressing thousands in Falcon state, in west Venezuela, Capriles accused Chavez of defrauding the population with false promises while squandering the nation's oil revenues on political allies abroad.

"The government prefers to build a refinery in Nicaragua, or send oil and worry about power cuts in Cuba, but it doesn't care about blackouts here in Falcon," he said.

"Why does that happen? The rulers of today are only interested in themselves, and their pockets. I ask the people of Falcon, 'What has the revolution done in this state?'" added Capriles, to cries of "Nothing" from his supporters.

In a campaign tactic he has been using in each state he visits, the opposition leader read a list of what he said were unfulfilled government infrastructure promises for Falcon.

Of the half-dozen or so best-known pollsters in Venezuela, a majority put Chavez ahead, but they also show Capriles creeping up in recent weeks.

Venezuelans are transfixed by the race, but also nervous of possible violence if the result is close and disputed.

Foreign investors hope the more business-friendly Capriles will take over and end a nationalization drive.

Chavez promises to "deepen" socialism if he wins. That will likely mean continued spending on his popular welfare "missions," new confrontations with the private sector, and more support for his leftist allies in the region.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 30 Eylül 2012, 10:00