Venezuela Election: Chavez Holds Mass Rally on Final Day of Campaigning

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez plays air guitar after delivering a speech during his closing campaign rally in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012. (AP/Ariana Cubillos)

Venezuela Election: Chavez Holds Mass Rally on Final Day of Campaigning

Jimmy Carter says: 'Election Process in Venezuela is the Best in the World'

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez held a massive campaign rally in Caracas on Thursday, the final day of campaigning before Sunday's election.

Chavez led hundreds of thousands of supporters in a chorus of the national anthem, played air guitar to a campaign theme song and shared the stage with his family, Britain's Guardianreports.

"We are playing for life. In our hands we will not lose the fatherland, we will not lose the future of the fatherland," Chavez said.

The mass rally transformed the city center into a sea of cheering, dancing, red-shirted followers on the final day of campaigning.

Chavez is the strong favorite, but few are predicting a landslide victory on the scale of past wins. Having battled cancer for most of the past year, he has been less visible than during previous campaigns.

Chavez, 57, has been president since February 1999. He is seeking another six-year term.

His challenger, Henrique Capriles, remained significantly behind Chavez in most polls but had narrowed the margin.


For his part, Chavez has pledged he would keep the economy growing, said Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Despite a recession a few years ago, the Venezuelan economy has expanded the past two and a half years, Weisbrot said. Unemployment has been halved since Chavez took office 1999, down to the 7% range, he added.

Chavez would continue to reduce extreme poverty -- which now stands at 7% -- through payments to households with children and boosting living standards.

His administration has recently built 250,000 homes for families -- which, based on national population, would be equivalent to 2.5 million new homes in the United States, Weisbrot said.

"Since the Chavez government got control over the national oil industry, poverty has been cut by half and extreme poverty by 70 percent. College enrollment has more than doubled, millions of people have access to health care for the first time, and the number of people eligible for public pensions has quadrupled," Weisbrot wrote in a recent analysis.

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Jimmy Carter says: 'Election Process in Venezuela is the Best in the World'

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After a long and bitterly fought campaign, Venezuela hold its first presidential election in six years on Sunday. And both candidates - incumbent Hugo Chavez and his rival Henrique Capriles - made the most of their last day on the campaign trail. RT's Lucy Kafanov looks at what's at stake during this election. Also, RT talks to Bill Fletcher, author and Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies.

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