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Media: Chavez Victory Mandate For Policies

From Hugo’s fans at Reuters:

Chavez seeks strong mandate with re-election bid

Sun Dec 3, 2006 11:18 AM ET

By Patrick Markey

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) – Anti-U.S. President Hugo Chavez was favored to win re-election on Sunday as Venezuelans decided whether to give the former soldier six more years to broaden his promised socialist revolution.

A victory for Chavez, 52, would bolster his campaign for a left-wing alliance in Latin America to counter what he attacks as Washington’s "imperialist" influence in the region. U.S. officials portray him as an authoritarian menace.

Most recent polls showed Chavez with a solid lead over Gov. Manuel Rosales of western, oil-rich Zulia state who has led the strongest opposition challenge in years to his rule in the OPEC heavyweight and top U.S. oil supplier.

Seven years after Chavez took power, Venezuela is polarized with his poor power base applauding his spending oil income on social programs while critics brand him a would-be dictator copying the communism of his ally, Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Rosales, 53, has managed to unite the deeply fractured opposition by attacking Chavez’s record tackling high crime and unemployment and promising to roll back policies he says are slowly edging Venezuela toward authoritarian rule.

"Rosales is the candidate. We have never been so divided here," said Delia Zambrano, 51, an administrative assistant voting in an east Caracas opposition stronghold. "Chavez has to go."

Voters flocked to the polls around the capital where they ate breakfast, read newspapers and sat in folding chairs in long lines waiting to vote. Chavez backers started the day blasting recordings of the Reveille military trumpet salute.

Opponents worry a Chavez win would tighten his political control over Venezuela after he talked about removing term limits to allow him to stay in office and said he would bring together his allies into a single party if re-elected.


Hundreds of international observers are in the country, including teams from the European Union and the Organization of American States. Rosales has said he will accept the result if the vote is transparent.

Despite assurances the vote would be clean, Venezuelans have stocked up on food and supplies preparing for any post-vote protests. Chavez’s early years in office were marked by a brief coup, street protests and a crippling oil strike.

Chavez, famous for his marathon speeches mixing myths and barracks humor with serious policy-making, has campaigned with a nationalist war cry that he is battling "the devil" — President Bush.

Born to poor country teachers, Chavez led a botched coup six years before his first 1998 election. That pushed him into the political limelight where he promised to reverse years of corruption and neglect of the poor.

Rosales has campaigned with the slogan "Dare to change" but the odds appear against him. Chavez is popular because of huge social spending and critics say his allies control key institutions, including the electoral authority.

Supporters say Chavez has championed the neglected majority by spending billions of dollars to provide free health, education and food programs. He vows to deepen his socialist programs, including a land redistribution and tighter state control over oil and mining resources.

"My future is guaranteed with his education and work projects," said Jesus Martinez, a student participating in one of Chavez’s university programs.

Opposition leaders have struggled to overcome splits and worries over an election authority dominated by Chavez loyalists after they lost a 2004 recall referendum, which many opposition supporters believed was rigged.

This is the theme of the day in our one party media: that Chavez’s "victory" in today’s elections will be a clear mandate for his policies.

Never mind that Chavez and company will steal the elections if they cannot win fairly. And subsequently his victory is not an expression of the will of the people — let alone a mandate.

But the media has its job, which is to propagandize for America-haters in all shapes and sizes.

After all, they are on the same side.

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, December 3rd, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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