Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans flooded downtown Caracas on Sunday to support opposition candidate Henrique Capriles in the biggest rally to date of his campaign to unseat cancer-stricken socialist President Hugo Chavez.
The athletic 39-year-old walked and jogged 10 km (6.2 miles) in the company of supporters to register his candidacy with electoral authorities, burnishing his image of physical fitness in contrast to the convalescing Chavez.
Capriles hopes to replace Chavez’s state-driven socialism with a Brazil-style balance between free enterprise and social programs, and promises an end to the sectarian polarization of Chavez’s 13-year rule.
“On October 7th we will decide not between two men but between two different ways of life,” Capriles intoned from a stage set up before a plaza jam-packed with sympathizers before entering the election’s council.
“Today I’m the candidate because the people have decided, but on October 7th I’ll be the next president of all Venezuelans,” said Capriles, saying one million people had turned out.
During his speech he looked up to address a group of people in a nearby government office tower that has been used to house Venezuelans who lost homes in floods – a problem that plagued Chavez for months and spurred a major home-building campaign.
“You’re going to get out of there and move into a home, God bless you and your family,” he shouted.
The event marked a shift toward high-profile rallies to galvanize supporters after a months-long house-to-house tour of the OPEC nation in which he sought to win over new sympathizers ahead of the October 7 vote.
Read more here.