Sunday, October 08, 2006

In Caracas, Thousands Support Opposition

Thousands marched Saturday in the biggest show of public support yet for Venezuela's main opposition presidential candidate, who pledged to undo what he called the ills of President Hugo Chavez's government. Manuel Rosales accused the government of mismanaging the country's oil wealth and ignoring crime. He also played on fears that Chavez's close friendship with Cuban leader Fidel Castro was leading Venezuela down the same path as the communist island. "They say the Venezuelan people rule - that's a lie," said Rosales, governor of oil-rich, western Zulia state, who faces Chavez in the Dec. 3 election. "(We have) a government that is a puppet of a communist, totalitarian system. ... We have a government that is governing from Cuba."
Manuel Rosales
Venezuelan authorities had promised to have as many as 2,500 officers on the streets to ensure security amid concerns about violence as Rosales' supporters traversed sectors of the capital that are pro-Chavez. A government helicopter flew overhead and a heavy police presence was on hand, but there were no reports of disturbances. Caracas' metropolitan police estimated the crowd at about 7,000, but reporters on the scene estimated the turnout to be more than 10,000. Chavez grabbed headlines recently when he called President Bush "the devil" and slammed U.S. leaders for trying to block his country from taking a seat on the U.N. Security Council.