Chávez camp launches smear campaign against presidential rival Capriles (The Guardian)
Venezuelan opposition candidate Henrique Capriles faces attacks over his sexuality, affluent background and Jewish roots. Capriles was overwhelmingly endorsed as the Venezuelan opposition’s presidential candidate in its first-ever primary election on February 12.
Allies of Hugo Chávez have begun a smear campaign against the opposition’s candidate for the Venezuelan presidency – while a row over voter lists has heightened fears that supporters of Henrique Capriles could face reprisals in their employment and personal lives. […]
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Senior officials and state media have led the attack, denouncing Capriles – a 39-year-old state governor who wants to be Venezuela’s youngest leader – as “bourgeois” and “fascist”.
“Now we know who is the candidate of imperialism, of capitalism and the right wing,” said congress leader Diosdado Cabello, a former military comrade and longtime staunch supporter of the socialist president. “The anti-patriotic candidate has a face. He won’t have an easy election campaign.”
Capriles is the grandson of Jews who survived the second world war Holocaust in Poland. He defines himself as a centre-left progressive favouring free-market economics with a strong social conscience.
The most furious accusations have come from state media commentator Mario Silva, who often targets Chávez’s foes on his late night TV show The Razorblade. Silva insulted opposition leaders and then read out a purported police document reporting Capriles was caught in a car having sex with another man in 2000. Capriles denied the allegation and said the document was falsified. Police have not commented.
Another state radio commentator, Adal Hernandez, wrote a vitriolic profile of Capriles, highlighting his Jewish family background and titled The Enemy Is Zionism. Capriles, a practising Catholic, has not responded to the profile. […]
Chávez supporters have also demanded to know the source of Capriles’ campaign financing, implying pro-US interests have been backing him. The Democratic Unity candidate has responded that his books are open for all to see. […]
The government for years discriminated against Venezuelans whose names were on a list of people who requested a recall referendum on Chávez’s rule, blocking them from jobs, state loans and in some cases even entrance to government buildings. […]
Capriles has criticised one-sided coverage by state media, accusing it of routinely ignoring protests about crime and water shortages while extensively reporting “every time a mango falls on a roof” in the state of Miranda where he is governor. […]
But the president still appears to have the edge, thanks to high popularity among the poor, a formidable party machine and an extraordinary pre-election spending spree on welfare projects like allowances for single mothers and pensioners. —- Original article at The Guardian