Mérida, September 23rd 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – In one of the largest concentrations in Merida state’s history, tens of thousands of locals rallied in support of presidential candidate Hugo Chavez on Friday. Yesterday, there was a similarly large turnout in Trujillo state, and thousands also marched in support of the social missions in Caracas.
“This socialist revolution won’t be stopped by anyone because it has become the people,” Chavez said in Merida.
He asked Meridenans if an opposition government would maintain the missions and other gains, to loud cries of “No!” from the crowd. He also talked to one activist from the suburb of Tabay, Patricia Acosta, about the benefits of the revolution there and how she is working with the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) to guarantee a victory for the Bolivarian revolution in the 7 October elections.
“The opposition try to disguise themselves, basically as the revolution, and now they adore the missions, even though they have attacked them so much… the missions are only possible under a socialist government,” Chavez said.
People had been gathering in the street from around 10am that morning, and when Chavez appeared on stage just after 5pm the crowd went ecstatic, with some people close to tears, and many climbed onto shop roofs, billboards, and construction stands in order to get a better view.
They had come from all over Merida state, and in the lead up to Chavez’s speech, enjoyed music and dancing on four other stages, as well as giant puppetry, spray paint art, and affordable arepas provided by a PDVAL van.
“It’s important to maintain this excitement and love, but at the same time accompany it… with perfect strategy, perfect tactics, a perfect battle, so that we achieve the perfect victory on 7 October,” Chavez told the crowd.
Yanecsy Paredes, a student of integral community medicine, told Venezuelanalysis’ Ewan Robertson, “Today I feel really happy, happy to be sharing [time] with the people of Merida, enjoying the wait to see my president, and excited about the re-election [of Chavez]”.
She said the people support Chavez so strongly, “because of love, the main thing that moves us here is love, the love that he has given us. Equally, we reciprocate with him. We are with him because over recent years we have seen how in reality the people have arisen, poverty is being reduced, health needs are attended to, primary health care is arriving in the towns and villages, to those most in need.”
At the rally, Chavez also announced that the world’s highest cable car, which goes up the Andes of Merida, will be reopened after three years of repairs and improvements, next year. Merida will also host Venezuela’s annual International Tourism Fair (Fitven) next year.
Also in Merida yesterday, the government inaugurated the second stage of the city’s free of charge tramway (or electric bus). The second stage extends the distance covered by the tram by 2.7 km, for a total of 13.1 km.
The minister for land transport, Juan Garcia, said daily passengers are expected to increase to 40,000.
Large rallies in Trujillo and Caracas
In a similarly large concentration on Saturday in Trujillo state, to the north of Merida, Chavez announced that its La Ceiba port, located on the large Maracaibo Lake, will become an international port of the regional bloc, the Common Market of the South (Mercosur). He said the port will link up to a railway that will go through Tachira and Merida states. Venezuela formally joined Mercosur on 31 July this year.
Chavez also announced that the government is building one of the largest abattoirs in Venezuela in Trujillo, “It’ll have a capacity of up to 600 animals per day; it’ll absorb Trujillo’s production, as well as part of Merida’s… thanks to Argentine support”.
In Trujillo, like in Merida, Chavez dedicated a large part of his speech to the proportionately large youth populations of these states, saying, “I look at you all in these streets with the eyes of a father… and I feel as though you were my children, and the children of this struggle, the children of this homeland. I swear to you that I will be in this battle until the last day of my life, so that you all can have a homeland, and can continue building it”.
Also on Saturday in Caracas, tens of thousands of people marched in support of Venezuela’s social missions and to state that “the missions are the peoples, and are with Chavez”.
For a photo gallery of the Merida rally, click here.