Henrique Capriles leads rally in Caracas
By Fabiola Sanchez, AP
October 2, 2012, 11:18 am TWN
CARACAS, Venezuela -- A huge crowd filled the streets of Venezuela's capital on Sunday 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 filled a downtown avenue and appeared to surpass 100,000 people. The authorities didn't provide a crowd estimate.
While President Hugo Chavez was leading weekend rallies elsewhere in the country, authorities were investigating the killings of two men in a shooting that erupted during an opposition campaign caravan in western Barinas state on Saturday.
Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said in a message on Twitter on Sunday morning that a suspect was arrested in the double murder, but he didn't immediately identify the suspect.
Opposition lawmaker Julio Cesar Reyes said on Saturday that a group of Chavez's supporters blocked the caravan and people on both sides were arguing when a gunman appeared and started shooting.
Opposition officials said both men killed were participants in the motorcade of Capriles supporters.
Capriles condemned the violence in his speech to supporters on Sunday.
He also criticized Chavez for what he called a long list of unfulfilled promises, noting that years ago the president pledged to clean up the sewage-filled Guaire River in Caracas and it remains badly polluted.
“Where's the cleanup? Pure chatter,” Capriles told the crowd.
The opposition leader criticized what he called gifts by Chavez's government to other countries, and rattled off a list including a donation to a Puerto Rican music group, a hospital in Uruguay and prefabricated homes in Guatemala.
Chavez rallied thousands of supporters on Saturday in Guarenas, a town east of Caracas, telling them: “It's impossible for us to lose.”
Chavez's supporters grabbed at red T-shirts that were thrown into the crowd. Some stood on rooftops cheering, and women screamed as Chavez passed. The crowd chanted: “Ooh, Ahh, Chavez won't go!”
While Chavez touted his achievements during his speech, he also said “self-criticism” is important and acknowledged that problems including a housing shortage and sporadic blackouts remain.
“There are reasons for many people to be dissatisfied with this government that I lead,” Chavez told the crowd. But, he added, “On Oct. 7, it isn't at stake whether the light went out or not ... whether they've given me a house or not.”
“Those are very important problems and we're working to solve them,” Chavez said. “My socialist government is going to continue solving our big problems.”