Archive for Sunday, August 20, 2006

Top Chavez opponent holds first election rally

August 20, 2006

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— Opposition presidential candidate Manuel Rosales led several thousand supporters at his first campaign rally Saturday, where he accused President Hugo Chavez of not doing enough for the poor.

Rosales, a popular governor from the western state of Zulia, said it pained him to see some Venezuelans still living in shantytowns with leaky roofs or dirt floors.

"The poor have to come out from below," he told the cheering crowd outside the National Electoral Council, where he formally registered as a candidate. "I'm going to do away with poverty in Venezuela. Its oil wealth is for the entire nation."

Rosales, 54, pledged that if elected Dec. 3, he would create an oil-funded debit card that would be distributed to poor families and offer them an allowance to help pay for food, housing or setting up small businesses.

Chavez, who is seeking another six-year term, argues that his opponents are ignoring advancements made during his term. He said the government has created a network of social programs including state-subsidized food markets, new public housing and free health care provided by thousands of Cuban doctors.

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