Wow, this is so blatant, it almost boggles the mind. (T)Hugo Chavez is attempting – and appears to be succeeding at- buying his reelection as president of Venezuela in the most ham-handed display of open vote buying I can recall. Enjoy it while you can, folks. After the election all of that goes away. Maybe the leftists could explain how they think Chavez is a hero given this sleazoid display of vote buying.
A new opinion poll by Zogby International suggests that the president will coast to victory on December 3 with 59% support, compared with 24% for his main rival, Manuel Rosales, 53. A separate poll last month gave a smaller, but still commanding, lead.
Mr Chávez, 52, first elected in 1998, not only wants to win, but to do so with a massive majority to endorse what he calls a 21st-century socialist revolution.
In recent weeks the government has inaugurated a blizzard of infrastructure projects and finance schemes to fund housing and education for the poor and middle class. A new rail line opened this month from the capital, Caracas, to an outlying suburb was jammed with passengers after Mr Chávez said that all journeys would be free until the end of the year.
Civil servants were told that their Christmas bonus would be paid on November 1, a month early, and the municipality of Caracas said it would pay for an all-star baseball game next month.
A series of free concerts neared a climax in the city last weekend when tens of thousands jammed Plaza Venezuela to hear Manu Chao, a leftwing rock star hugely popular in Latin America. He drew cheers when he denounced Mr Chávez's arch-foe, the US president, George Bush.
With Mr Chávez's re-election almost assured, the government was attempting to mobilise voters who were undecided or tempted to abstain, said Carlos Romero, director of graduate studies in international affairs at the Central University of Venezuela. A large number of Venezuelans are so-called ni nis, neither for one candidate nor the other.
The finance ministry confirmed a steep increase in spending, but declined to say by how much. Angel Eniro Vera, the political director of Mr Rosales's campaign, said state funds were bankrolling the president's campaign with no control.
The Guardian does not sound as if it disapproves of this, it sounds neutral about it, really. How much of the money Chavez is throwing away on short term vote buying would actually improve the lives of the poor there? How much treasure that he wasted on trying to buy a seat on the UN Security Council would have helped the people he claims to champion?
There is an interesting thing to consider here. If George Bush was the power mad, corrupt beast that the left tries to paint him to be in this nation, why isn't he spending money on bread and circuses to ensure the election of Republicans?
And why are the Democrats figuratively promising ponies to everyone if they are elected?
Might want to think about that, folks.