Chavez praises military deal with Russia hours before key vote

The leftist South American leader is certain of his reelection on Sunday. He will push a new constitutional reform to introduce the unlimited reelection of the President and mechanisms to illegalize opposition parties.

As the Venezuelan presidential campaign concludes amid crossed accusations of fraud and instigation to violence, President Hugo Chavez, who seeks his reelection on Sunday, made a strong defense of the military agreements signed with Russia and vowed to increase the cooperation between Caracas and Moscow in this field. Opposition leaders, the United States and some Latin American administrations had expressed their concerns over the acquisition by Venezuela of Russian made assault rifles, helicopters and battle aircrafts.

“Each country has the right to buy the weapons it considers necessary to modernize its armed forces”, said Chavez on Thursday during a three-hour news conference with the foreign in media in Caracas , Pravda.Ru among them. “We bought Russian helicopters because they are much more efficient than the US ones. We want to further advance in the cooperation with Moscow because they also provide with technology to produce weaponry in our country”, he added. As part of the agreement, Chavez commented that he is planning to settle a factory to produce AK-47 rifles in Venezuela to sell them abroad at the cheapest price.

“Bush should quit”

When asked about his permanent disputes with US President George W. Bush, Chavez went straight to the point: “Bush should quit after the appalling defeat he suffered in the midterm elections”. “He (Bush) thinks that he is the master of the world, but he cannot control his own nation”, the Venezuelan leader said.

As for Latin America , Chavez said that he is not leading a shift to left in the continent, but admitted that the “revolution” he says he leads is essential for “the new era in the region”. “We will accelerate and enlarge the integration of the Latin Americans nations”. Chavez mentioned the construction of an oil and gas pipeline to from Venezuela to Argentina and Uruguay and the creation of regional bank of development to finance infrastructure projects.

New constitution

The revolutionary leader also commented that in case of being reelected on Sunday, he will immediately instruct his collaborators to work in an integral reform of the country’s Constitution, which was rewrote by him six years ago. “We could eventually introduce a clause to permit the unlimited reelection and mechanisms that could eventually allow our courts to illegalize political parties that do not fulfill with electoral law”, Chavez commented during the meeting with journalists.

“We need to adapt our Constitution to the new world, to the new reality in Latin America , which is leaving behind the neo-liberal past”, he remarked.

“We frustrated an attempt to kill my rival”

As the opposition accuses Chavez of organizing a mass fraud to secure his reelection on Sunday, the Venezuelan President counterattacked insisting in that it is impossible to rig the vote and even mentioned a frustrated attempt to kill his rival to distort him. “Our security services frustrated an attempt to kill the most prominent candidate of the opposition (Manuel Rosales), perpetrated by fascist groups from within the opposition forces to challenge my reelection”, Chavez denounced. “We seized a rifle and an adapted van which was going to be used to kill him”, he added.

The incident adds more uncertainty to Sunday elections, as analysts do not rule out the eruption of street violence as soon as the first results are aired by the local media. About 120,000 army troopers were deployed across Venezuela as part of a plan to grant security during the vote. Local TV stations cannot broadcast exit polls until the National Electoral Council releases the first bulletin.

A tense calm is expected to reign before the results become known. No one rules out that it could turn into chaos as soon as the first numbers are released.

Hernan Etchaleco

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Author`s name Alex Naumov