Venezuela’s Chavez Back in Public, Says Opposition “Going Crazy”

After eleven days out of the public spotlight since he returned from Cuba, President Hugo Chavez appeared live on public television yesterday during a ministers’ council meeting and criticised the opposition candidate, said that he will register as a presidential candidate in June, and announced that the new anti-crime mission will also be launched in June.

By Tamara Pearson
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Chavez (centre back) at the ministers’ council yesterday (tmaniglia)
Chavez (centre back) at the ministers’ council yesterday (tmaniglia)

Mérida, May 23rd 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – After eleven days out of the public spotlight since he returned from Cuba, President Hugo Chavez appeared live on public television yesterday during a ministers’ council meeting and criticised the opposition candidate, said that he will register as a presidential candidate in June, and announced that the new anti-crime mission will also be launched in June.

At the ministers’ meeting in Caracas Chavez said the opposition is “going crazy... they’re losing their nerves because they’ve picked the worst candidate [Henrique Capriles]...he’s stagnating...they’ve got to the highest level of delusion...even I feel embarrassed for them, [by running] they discredit me because he’s just not a contender” .

Over the last few weeks government representatives as well as national and international private media have also stated that Capriles’ campaign is “stagnating”, criticising his proposals for being little different to the current government or for being “boring” and for not “growing as a candidate”. Capriles has been consistently around 20 points lower than Chavez in the polls.

“There’s four months left until the elections, they [the opposition] are going to be completely defeated, I call on the rational leaders of the opposition... some of them are worried and feeling hopeless...we call on them to preserve the peace,” Chavez said.

He criticised the recent spate of aggression against public media journalists, which now total nine physical attacks against journalists covering opposition events.

He also announced that he is revising the upcoming government plan for 2013 -2019, which he described as a “transition to socialism” and which he said includes land recuperation, infrastructure, science, increasing the rural standard of living, developing competitive industry, and speeding up the modernisation of agriculture and metal mining. The plan is a requirement for those registering to be candidates for the presidential election.

Chavez confirmed that he will register as a candidate and hand in the plan between 1 and 11 June, dates stipulated by the independent National Electoral Council (CNE). This follows some speculation that the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) would put forward a different candidate, due to Chavez’s illness. Election campaigning can legally begin in July.

Referring to the opposition’s government plan, Chavez said, “It must be a tragedy for them, to try to present what is unpresentable”.

Also during the meeting Chavez announced that the government’s latest mission, the safety or anti-crime mission, will be launched next month and will be called the Full Life Mission. It aims to transform the judicial system, to spur creative alternative mechanisms of conflict resolution, to transform the prison system, to install a new system of attention for victims, to encourage solidarity based living and to strengthen citizen security organisations.

Chavez returned to Venezuela on 11 May after his last round of radiotherapy , when he quickly appeared on television, but has since been recuperating.

“I feel good, I’m recovering day after day...from the effects of the radiotherapy treatment, and I’m getting back into my work routine,” he said on Monday via a telephone call to state television.

Chavez said that he had “never abandoned” his responsibilities as head of state while he complied with the necessary medical treatment and rest. He said he was taking on his work now “not like a horse, but rather like a buffalo, in order to produce what I should, to be useful to the country and to continue with the task that the people have entrusted me with”.

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