English | News | 11 marzo 2012

Sick Chavez seeks re-election in Venezuela with public spending push (Reuters)

Chávez utilizing State TV to promote candidacy

Cranes tower over new apartment blocks in Venezuela’s capital where President Hugo Chavez’s government plans to house 20,000 poor families as part of a populist pre-election spending push.

Though finished, the buildings stand empty – waiting for the usual fanfare inauguration of such projects by Chavez himself. […]

The charismatic Chavez has been in campaign mode for most of his 13-year rule, and his signature style of personally meeting the beneficiaries of his welfare programs has helped him win re-election and extend his powers in the South American nation. […]

That might mean running a “virtual” campaign largely from Caracas and making the most of any personal appearances he is able to make in slums and rural areas.

“He won’t be in physical shape to visit every corner of the country,” said Glen Martinez, who runs a pro-Chavez community radio station in a hilly neighborhood spray-painted with murals of Mexican guerrilla leader Subcomandante Marcos and of Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader toppled and killed last year. […]

The opposition’s big challenge is to invent their own proposals to compete with Chavez’s enormously popular oil-funded social programs, like the “Great Venezuelan Housing Mission,” that has built tens of thousands of new houses.

“Chavez will not be able to run the campaign he wants to, but he doesn’t need to campaign as much as Capriles,” said Leon.

Probably foreshadowing the race to come, even from his Cuban hospital Chavez kept himself in the spotlight via Twitter messages, phone calls to state TV, a drip-drip of photos and videos, and a televised cabinet meeting. […]

Yet even after chemotherapy that left him bald and bloated, Chavez played baseball, danced in public, hosted a regional summit, gave the world’s longest-ever presidential speech, and merrily declared himself “completely cured.” […]

Complete article at Reuters