Capriles Calls for Chavez to Be More Forthcoming on His Health

Hugo Chavez’s opponent in October’s presidential election has called on the Venezuelan leader to be more transparent about the state of his health and his battle with cancer.

“I see lots of uncertainty on the side of the government’s followers,” Miranda state Governor Henrique Capriles Radonski said today in comments broadcast on television network Globovision. “I think it’s time the head of state, instead of sending messages by telephone, appears before television cameras and speaks to Venezuelans frankly about his situation.”

Chavez, who has undergone three operations and several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatment in Cuba since June, has said he’ll be fit enough to run as his party’s candidate for another six-year term as president. He has refused to say what kind of cancer he has, where it’s located or give his prognosis, fueling speculation that his illness is worse than he’s letting on.

Chavez, 57, broke a 10-day absence from television screens April 24 by appearing in a pre-recorded video that showed him playing a local form of bowls with ministers in Cuba. Since state television aired images of the self-declared socialist arriving in Venezuela April 26, the former tank commander hasn’t appeared in public, choosing instead to call into television events or send messages on his Twitter account.

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In a telephone call broadcast earlier today, Chavez said that he’s busy drafting a new labor law as he recuperates, calling criticism by Capriles, 39, that he’s governing by Twitter “absurd.” Chavez called the station to mark the second anniversary of when he first started using Twitter.

The issue of Chavez’s health has fueled a rally in Venezuelan bonds that have returned 22.4 percent this year, the second most in emerging markets after the Ivory Coast, on speculation there will be a change in government and economic policies.

Chavez was supported by 46 percent of those surveyed in a poll by Caracas-based Consultores 21 taken between March 3 and March 13, while Capriles had 45 percent. The poll used a sample of 2,000 people with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points. Other polls give Chavez a bigger lead.

Chavez’s allies are preparing for a scenario in which his cancer will prevent him from competing in the election, Tal Cual reported on April 25, citing Wilmar Castro, head of planning for Chavez’s re-election campaign.

To contact the reporter on this story: Charlie Devereux in Caracas at cdevereux3@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net

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