Chavez Equates Opposition Victory With Loss Of Independence
The two candidates for the Venezuelan presidency have now officially registered - each in his own style. Incumbent president Hugo Chavez rode in a float to register, while his opponent Henrique Capriles jogged for 10 km.
The elections are scheduled for October 7.
The race will not be decided on physical fitness, although Chavez' bout with cancer is the elephant in the room. The question is whether the opposition, although united, can overcome Hugo Chavez' holds on the levers of power.
One example is a speech that Chavez gave before the military high command. The Venezuelan president, who had limited his personal and TV appearances,- giving rise to speculation about how long he has to live - harangued his audience for nearly 3 hours.
He reminded the officers of the lavish programs for military housing in the capital Caracas as well as outside it. He also equated the victory of the opposition in the elections as tantamount to a loss of national independence: "If for some reason the nation's bourgeoisie regains national power, our independence will again be lost, you can be sure of that - the gates will be shut on it and who knows how many years will pass before it is seen again."
As the military is sworn to defend the country's independence, this could be interpreted as an invitation to the Army to intervene should the opposition emerge victorious.
Chavez took pride in the fact that Venezuelan factories had started to turn out AK-47 assault rifles as well as military drones. This too was a statement that the country would defend its national independence.
Another possible counterweight to an opposition victory is an upgrade to the status of the pro-Chavez communal councils that are part of the government patronage and get-out-the-vote drive. As many state and local governments are controlled by the opposition, this is a way to dilute their power.
Chavez also used the address to announce imminent visits by his international comrades, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the president of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko.