Photo: Hugo Chavez and Henrique Capriles
Opposition hopeful Henrique Capriles on Friday challenged Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to a debate on the nation’s problems with exactly one month to go before the presidential election.
“I challenge the government, let us debate our ideas of government anywhere in the country,” Capriles said at a rally in the eastern state of Monagas.
Capriles, the 40-year-old former governor of the central state of Miranda, said the only debate that interests Chavez is an exchange of insults.
“Do you hear the government candidate making proposals? No, he wants to save the planet Earth, he wants to save humanity…and who’s going to solve our electricity problem?” the opposition candidate asked.
“And who will see to it that there are no more accidents in our oil industry like the one that just happened in Falcon?” he said in reference to an Aug. 25 explosion and fire at a refinery that left 42 dead, and which remains under investigation.
Capriles challenged Chavez to discuss the housing situation and the plight of those left homeless by natural disasters and who are still living in shelters today.
He again insisted that he will not abolish the social programs implemented by Chavez since he first took office in 1999.
Capriles said that on Oct. 8 when he wins the election, he will meet with Chavez’s supporters because, he said, “I will not rest until I see all Venezuelans united.”
He said that in the last month of the campaign it will be seen which candidate has the most energy between him and the 58-year-old Chavez, who spent much of the last 15 months battling cancer.
Close to 19 million Venezuelans are eligible to vote on Oct. 7 to decide among Chavez, Capriles and five independent candidates.