May 20, 2013
Venezuela's Capriles slams Chávez for blocking broadcast
Venezuela's opposition candidate Henrique Capriles slammed President Hugo Chávez on Monday for blocking a live broadcast of an opposition rally, highlighting criticism the leftist leader abuses state resources to guarantee his re-election.
Shortly after Capriles began speaking to thousands of supporters in a Caracas park, Chávez launched a "chain broadcast" across all public access television in which he celebrated his government's achievements and extolled the virtues of socialism.
"Another radio and television chain broadcast to continue lying to Venezuelans just 20 days before the election," Capriles said via his Twitter account.
Capriles has accused Chávez of using state institutions to tilt the Oct. 7 election in his own favor, from giving supporters cash and apartments, to using state media to glorify his image.
Government officials dismiss those charges, saying the social programs are aimed at helping the poorest, not buying votes.
Chávez says he only uses "chain" broadcasts for state business, not to boost his re-election campaign, but they often last for hours, during which he usually berates his opponents.
Local broadcasters in the South American nation are forced to halt their programming to carry the speeches, although the system was originally designed for brief emergency messages.
After Capriles was told his rally had been taken off the air, he told the crowd: "My friends, people are allowed to be afraid if they want."
Supporters responded with thunderous applause. The rest of Capriles' speech was screened by opposition TV station Globovision after Chávez finished talking.
The election campaign was already drowning in a flood of accusations and insults. Just days earlier, Capriles fired a top aide who had been seen accepting an envelope of cash in a video made public by Chávez's allies.
Chávez remains popular in the OPEC nation after 14 years in power, thanks largely to his self-styled revolution's liberal spending of oil revenue on social programs ranging from free health clinics to subsidized supermarkets.