Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

A landslide victory for the 'invisible candidate' in Algeria's Presidential polls

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014 (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Presidential adviser resigns over "shoe-shine scandal"

Read more

#THE 51%

Breaking stereotypes

Read more

#TECH 24

Galaxy S5 v. HTC One (M8): Which is the right one for you?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

New PM Manuel Valls outlines priorities

Read more

FASHION

Jean-Marc Loubier, bags and shoes.

Read more

ENCORE!

Hip-hop musician Beat Assailant on mixing the sounds of the city

Read more

  • Police arrest S. Korea ferry captain for negligence

    Read more

  • Bouteflika, the ghost president

    Read more

  • Ukraine separatists say ‘not bound’ by Geneva deal

    Read more

  • Algeria's ailing Bouteflika clinches fourth term amid fraud claims

    Read more

  • Does Valls’ upcoming Vatican trip violate French secularism?

    Read more

  • Obama signs bill to block controversial Iran diplomat from UN post

    Read more

  • Abel Ferrara’s hotly awaited DSK film to premiere on web

    Read more

  • World honours Garcia Marquez’s magical literary legacy

    Read more

  • Ukraine: ‘One bloody incident could scupper Geneva deal’

    Read more

  • Top Hollande adviser resigns over conflict of interest accusation

    Read more

  • Indian election: Votes for sale

    Read more

  • West African Ebola outbreak caused by new strain of virus

    Read more

  • Astronomers discover Earth-like planet that could support life

    Read more

  • Video: Tensions remain high in Mariupol despite Geneva deal

    Read more

  • In Prijedor, survivors fight to keep memory alive

    Read more

  • Deadly avalanche strikes Everest in worst-ever disaster

    Read more

  • With a strong French presence, veterans and fresh faces, Cannes aims to please

    Read more

  • Russia and West agree on steps to ease Ukraine crisis

    Read more

  • Mob launches deadly attack on UN shelter for S. Sudan civilians

    Read more

  • Eurostar train mishap causes 'severe' delays

    Read more

  • Chelsea Clinton announces she's pregnant

    Read more

  • French troops free five aid workers kidnapped in Mali by Islamists

    Read more

  • In pictures: Iranian woman pardons son’s killer at the gallows

    Read more

  • After cup defeat, Spanish pundits read last rites for Barcelona

    Read more

  • India heads to polls in single largest day of voting

    Read more

Americas

Tens of thousands rally in support of Chavez re-election bid

©

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-06-12

Tens of thousands of people turned out to support Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Monday in his bid for re-election, in what was the leader’s largest rally since being diagnosed with cancer one year ago.

REUTERS - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez led his biggest rally since he was diagnosed with cancer a year ago, seeking to stage a show of strength on Monday as he heads into a re-election campaign to extend his 13 years of socialist rule.

The former soldier delivered a nearly three-hour speech with his practiced mix of folkloric spontaneity and militant discourse, marking a dramatic re-entry into the public eye after months of keeping a low profile during cancer treatment.

The event was all the more important after his opposition rival, Henrique Capriles, put on a show of youthful vigor on Sunday by leading a 10-km (6.2-mile) march with hundreds of thousands of supporters.

“We have been facing the psychological warfare of the adversary, that Chavez has only a few days left to live, that he is in a wheelchair,” Chavez told a pulsing crowd after filing his re-election bid with the authorities.

“Now, here I am once again in front of you, registering my candidacy in the name of the fatherland,” he said, wearing his trademark red beret and track-suit top in the colors of the Venezuelan flag.

The speech, which ranged from arcane Venezuelan historical references to casual banter with government ministers, marks the de facto launch of his campaign for the Oct. 7 vote.

He has steadily stepped up his public appearances in recent weeks after mostly communicating via Twitter or phone calls to state television.

Supporters flooded the streets of downtown Caracas in the hours prior to Chavez’s appearance, dancing to music pounding from speakers as giant inflatable Chavez dolls waved their arms above the crowd. Hundreds of buses that ferried his followers to Caracas stood parked in side streets.

Despite his vigor at the podium, Chavez’s face appeared unusually swollen and at one point he appeared to walk with some difficulty, prompting a scathing Twitter response from Capriles: “This candidate isn’t walking, he is out of gasoline!”

Chavez, in turn, tarred Capriles as a candidate “who smells of nothing, tastes of nothing, is completely insipid.” He joked that he would ask a famous Venezuelan comedian who briefly ran for president in 2006 to join the race because the opposition “doesn’t entertain anyone.”

He did not provide details on his condition or say if he would need more treatment.

Last year he had two operations to remove a baseball-sized tumor, and this year had a third operation only months after having declared himself “cancer free.”

Any turn for the worse in Chavez’s health could mean the end for his movement. That would be a blow to global leftist leaders who see him as an inspiration, but a boon to investors seeking free market reforms in Venezuela and oil companies keen on tapping the world’s biggest crude reserves.

Polls show two-thirds of Venezuelans believe he will get better.

Ahead in polls

Most of the country’s main pollsters show Chavez holding a double-digit lead over Capriles, as the combination of his ebullient charisma and a flood of public spending have offset his unusual silence caused by the cancer treatment.

“We’re just warming up the motors, while those losers sometimes seem like they’re already stalling,” Chavez said.

Since last year he has launched a wave of improvised social programs including pension funds for senior citizens and cash stipends for poor mothers, while giving away thousands of apartments to families that lost homes in floods.

Capriles’ campaign disputes the poll results, saying the effects of his nationwide house-to-house tour are not yet visible. They point out that Venezuelan public opinion is known to shift dramatically, as it did when Chavez came from behind in 1998 to win his first election.

Chavez supporters sent Twitter messages with the hash tag #VoyconChavez (#I’mgoingwithChavez). Adversaries responded by filling Venezuela’s notoriously vitriolic Twitter-sphere with messages tagged to #13añosdementiras (#13yearsoflies).

“Look at this sea of people; look at the happiness,” said Esther Martinez, a 66-year-old retiree dancing in a city square. “For every person that came out yesterday, we’ve brought out 10, 20, 30 more. And that’s going to be reflected in the election.”

Critics accuse Chavez allies of using state resources to swell demonstrations and forcing government employees to attend.

Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez said the ruling Socialist Party had ordered ministries to help bring 120,000 people to the march, citing what he called an internal party document.

 

Date created : 2012-06-12

  • Venezuela

    Chavez returns home after 'successful' radiation therapy

    Read more

  • Venezuela

    Sick Chavez phones TV show to disprove death rumours

    Read more

  • Venezuela

    Hugo Chavez returns to Cuba for cancer treatment

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)