Mérida, 17th February 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called on opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski to start debating ideas with him “or to run away,” as he set his tone toward his opponent in October’s presidential elections.
Speaking at the graduation of 1,215 community doctors yesterday in Caracas, Chavez stated that Radonski “has some advisors that have told him not to confront me, but that’s going to be impossible…you confront Chavez with ideas, with arguments, and when I refer to Chavez, I refer to the people. The confrontation here isn’t with Chavez and this little man [Radonski], it’s the bourgeoisie against the people, the [United States] empire against the country”.
Capriles Radonski, who is from one of Venezuela’s wealthiest families and current governor of the populous Miranda state, was elected as the presidential candidate for Venezuela’s right-wing Democratic Unity Table (MUD) at the opposition presidential primaries last Sunday. The election has faced accusations of fraud by both pro-government figures and some opposition mayoral candidates.
In his speeches he has sought to avoid mentioning Chavez directly, instead emphasising his support for “change” and the slogan “there is a way”. At a press conference on Monday, Capriles Radonski further announced he was a “progressive,” and that “the moment coming for Venezuela is neither of the left nor the right”.
Chavez criticised the stance of the opposition presidential hopeful yesterday, declaring that by defining himself as progressive “he’s trying to disguise himself, but he won’t be able to,” and directing himself directly at Capriles, continued, “You are the candidate of imperialism, of the bourgeoisie’s pro-coup sector, who violated Cuba’s sacred sovereignty…or are you going to forget that?”
Capriles has been accused of attempting a forced search of the Cuban embassy in Caracas during the short-lived coup against the Chavez administration in April 2002, where it was suspected by the opposition that members of the government were taking refuge inside.
The MUD candidate also pronounced on Monday that the state oil company Pdvsa should not have a direct social role, with the company currently funding a range of social programs, but rather “for that there are the [government] ministries”.
President Chavez claimed the comments as evidence of a contradiction between Capriles’ declared support for Venezuela’s social programs, or “missions”, and his intention to detach Pdvsa from their funding, exclaiming, “Of course! That’s how Pdvsa was before. It was of the bourgeoisie, the transnationals”.
A recent poll of presidential voting intentions by International Consulting Services (ICS) puts Hugo Chavez at 58.2% support and Capriles Radonski at 34.5%.