Chavez rival Capriles holds big rally as election looms

Chavez rival Capriles holds big rally as election looms

Chavez rival Capriles holds big rally as election looms

Presidential candidate Capriles speaks during a campaign meeting in Caracas. EPA photo

A huge crowd filled the streets of Venezuela’s capital on Sept. 30 cheering for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, waving flags in a show of support one week before the country’s hotly contested presidential election.

Capriles waved from a truck that rolled through the vast expanse of supporters. The crowd overflowed from Bolivar Avenue, the widest downtown thoroughfare, which according to some estimates has a capacity to hold about 260,000 people. “I ask you, the Venezuelan people, to judge: who is part of the process of change. And who was sickened by power, clung to it and deceived the Venezuelan people?” an emotional Capriles shouted.

While President Hugo Chavez led a rally with tens of thousands of supporters in western Zulia state on Sept. 30, authorities were investigating the killings of two men in a shooting that erupted elsewhere during an opposition campaign caravan on Sept. 29. Capriles condemned the killings in western Barinas state. Capriles’ Primero Justicia (Justice First) party said the assailants had fired from a van that witnesses identified as belonging to a state agency, after Chavez supporters had blocked an opposition motorcade.

The government did not admit fault in the shooting, but promised an investigation into what it said was an isolated incident. “On Oct. 7 we’re going to defeat violence in Venezuela,” the Associated Press quoted Capriles as saying. “Our country is tired of the violence, of the division, of the confrontation. ... The time of hatred is going to be buried in Venezuela.”

Chavez also lamented the violence, calling for his supporters not to “fall for provocations” at election time. “I ask all Venezuelans, it’s not with violence that we’re going to face each other. It’s vote against vote,” Chavez said.