CARACAS – The opposition candidate for the Venezuelan presidency, Henrique Capriles, said Saturday that a message he addressed to the armed forces went over “very well” and added that the “threats” of the “other candidate,” a reference to President Hugo Chavez, will not divert his “energy” from the job at hand.
“The word I have from inside our armed forces is that the message went over very well – it’s a message that invites...our armed forces to take part in developing our Venezuela,” Capriles said during a campaign tour of the northwestern state of Falcon.
Capriles was referring to an address he made last Thursday to the military during a three-minute political ad on TV, airtime he has the right to every day as a candidate and which also circulates on YouTube and social networks, after which he complained that he had learned of “orders” banning his TV speech from being seen on military bases.
Meanwhile his campaign committee released a communique supposedly issued by the Defense Ministry that “specifically and absolutely” bars all troops and the civilians who work on military bases from watching “any televised programming” in which the opposition candidate appears.
Chavez denied Friday that he gave the military any order not to watch or listen to his principal rival and slammed as “false” and “fabricated” the document circulated with the alleged prohibition.
During an interview on a regional TV channel, the president showed this Friday the “forged” document, supposedly from the Defense Ministry, and later, by way of contrast, put on camera a communique that he described as authentic.
While leading a military ceremony Saturday in Caracas that all television and radio stations were obliged to transmit, Chavez dealt with the same subject and said that “this has to be a crime,” though he added that “it’s nothing new” that psy-ops labs of the “dirty war of the bourgeoisie” forge documents.
He called on his adversaries in the coming elections to respect the nation’s armed forces, which he described as “revolutionary, socialist and Chavista,” and warned the troops of a “strategy of the bourgeoisie and the empire (his term for the United States) to divide them.”
“As commander-in-chief, as a Venezuelan and as a soldier, I must demand that the presidential candidates going around making offers, traveling around the country talking and saying what they want, that they respect our Bolivarian national armed forces,” Chavez said.
Asked about the president’s statement that this could be a crime, Capriles told reporters Saturday that “the threats and intimidation of the other candidate...don’t divert my energy, my time or my focus.”
“My plans have to do with jobs, security, housing, health care, education, opportunity. The proposals of this government are just three: threats, fear and dividing the people. That is what this government is about – instilling fear in everyone,” he said.
He maintained that he sent “a message of respect, of dignity, of commitment to the institution” of the armed forces.
“Those who decide who is the next commander-in-chief of our Venezuela will be the Venezuelan people,” Capriles said, adding that his vision is of “armed forces that are part and parcel of the nation’s development.”
Chavez and Capriles plus another five candidates will be on the ballot next Oct. 7, when 18.7 million Venezuelans elect the nation’s president for the 2013-2019 term in office.