Venezuela’s Chavez Uses National Address to Slam Opposition

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez used a system of national broadcasting known as “cadena” today to criticize Henrique Capriles Radonski, the opposition candidate he will face in elections set for Oct. 7.

“He is a daddy and mommy’s boy,” Chavez said in a speech to the country’s armed forces at a military base in Caracas carried on Venezuelan television and radio stations. “He doesn’t know what it means to be a soldier.”

Chavez, 57, often uses “cadenas” to broadcast speeches that last for hours, to transmit government events and to criticize his political foes. The former paratrooper said on July 9 he had the constitutional right to use the broadcast system even though a formal campaign period began on July 1.

Capriles, speaking at a campaign event in western Falcon state today, said that Chavez is abusing the “cadena” system for political purposes and invited the armed forces to support his campaign.

“Our soldiers have to deal with insecurity and power outages too,” Capriles said today in comments carried on state television, referring to the country’s high crime rate and problems with electricity generation. “I’ve been told the message I sent them has been well-received.”

Capriles, 40, on July 12 sent the armed forces a video message and said he would aim to improve their lives if elected, television network Globovision reported on its website. The former governor of Miranda state is scheduled to hold a march in Caracas tomorrow.

Health Concerns

“If the opposition gets into power, they will carry out a witch hunt in the armed forces,” Chavez said during the two-hour broadcast. “The strategy of the opposition is to lie, lie and lie.”

The self-declared socialist traveled later in the day to the central city of Barquisimeto, where he spoke before tens of thousands of supporters and thanked them for praying for his health.

“After this life, I’m sure that I’ll stay with you, even though I won’t be here physically,” he said in a ninety-minute speech carried by state television. “When you sing that Chavez isn’t going anywhere, it doesn’t refer just to me anymore. Chavez today is no longer me. Chavez is the people.”

Chavez, who has promised to win the election with 10 million votes, said July 9 that he’s “totally free” of a cancer whose exact type and location he’s refused to reveal. The comment echoes similar remarks in October 2011 that he later retracted after the discovery of a second tumor in February saw him travel to Cuba for surgery and radiation treatment.

“I’ll be with the people until the last second of my life,” said Chavez, urging supporters to target undecided and middle class voters. “The next six-year term will be spent furthering the path to socialism.”

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