Mérida 14th May 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez returned to Venezuela on Friday night, announcing a successful conclusion to his radiotherapy treatment in Cuba and his intention to return to the frontline of Venezuelan politics. Meanwhile, polls show him extending his advantage over rival Henrique Capriles Radonski ahead of the 7 October presidential election.
“I should inform [the country] that in the last few days we have successfully concluded the full radiotherapy cycle… I come with great optimism that this treatment will have the effects we hope for,” said Chávez upon his arrival in Maiquetia International Airport in Caracas.
The Venezuelan president had been in Cuba since 30 April undergoing his last round of radiotherapy treatment. He has experienced six rounds of treatment since he announced the return of cancer in February. In June 2011 he was first diagnosed with cancer, when he had a baseball-sized tumour removed from his pelvis.
Chávez confirmed that he would now continue to “rigorously” follow medical advice as part of his recovery.
Regarding the campaign ahead of the presidential election, in which he will seek a third term in office against Capriles Radonski of the right-wing Democratic Unity Table (MUD), he declared that as time passes “I’ll progressively put myself where I should be, in the frontline of battle with the Bolivarian people, pushing forward the socialist revolution of peace and love”.
Chávez stressed the intention of his United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) to continue strengthening the Great Patriotic Pole, a coalition of pro-Chávez social movements, as well as the importance of continuing “to fight the battle of ideas” ahead of the elections.
Journalists linked to the opposition continue to speculate on the nature and seriousness of Chávez’s state of health. Chávez urged people not to be influenced by rumours, which he said were aimed at causing anxiety in the country.
Hugo Chávez continues to enjoy high approval ratings in Venezuelan opinion polls, and appears to be increasing his electoral advantage over rival Capriles Radonski.
In the latest study by GIS XXI, a firm considered favourable towards the government, 57% of respondents declared an intention to vote for Chavez in the presidential elections against 21% for Radonski. The study also shows 66% overall approval of Chavez, which has been experiencing an increase of around 2% each month this year.
Last Thursday GIS XXI director Jesse Chacon commented of the figures saying, “After 12 years in power President Chávez has huge potential. The people know he’s achieved a lot and what is lacking they’re going to achieve with Chávez as president, because he hasn’t misled the people”.
A study in April by private polling company Hinterlaces showed 53% voting intention for Chávez and 34% for Capriles. A poll in the same month by the Venezuelan Institute of Data Analysis (IVAD) predicted election results of 58.6% for Chávez and 34% for Capriles.
A survey released last Thursday by Datanalisis, a firm associated with the opposition, put Chavez on 42% voting intention and Capriles on 26%. Datananalisis head Luis Vicente Leon blamed Capriles’s falling support, down 5% from March’s Datanalisis poll, on the media’s constant attention on Chávez’s health.
Based on the fact that the great majority of people expect Chávez to fully recover and run in the presidential elections, “the opposition’s strategy cannot concentrate itself on the president’s health, but rather it must focus on defeating Chávez as a candidate,” stated Hinterlaces director Oscar Schemel while speaking on private television channel Televen yesterday.
The GIS XXI study demonstrated that Chávez has the highest levels of approval (67.7%) among women and youth.
The functioning of government social programs also showed strong approval ratings, with 70% for the Ribas and Robinson education missions, 73 – 76% for the Barrio Adentro health program, and 65% for the Great Housing Mission house construction program.
Meanwhile respondents felt that the country’s main problems were insecurity (34%), unemployment (15%), public services (12%) and inflation/cost of life (10%).
The GIS XXI investigation was conducted across Venezuela between 11 April to 5 May with 9,300 interviews and a 1% margin of error. It can be downloaded in Spanish here.