Chavez lays out socialist aims in re-election bid
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has presented his country with a plan to deepen his push for socialism and entrench his movement in power as he runs for another six-year term amid questions of whether he will overcome cancer.
Chavez's 23-page "Bolivarian Socialist" proposal was inserted in the government newspaper Ciudad CCS on Tuesday. It was distributed online after he presented it to elections officials on Monday.
The document lays out broad goals such as pledges to keep "building 21st century Bolivarian socialism," while also detailing mundane specifics on pig farms, oil drilling, neighborhood committees and fertilizer output.
Chavez's proposal says one overarching aim is "guaranteeing the continuity and consolidation of the Bolivarian Revolution in power."
The 57-year-old president rallied supporters on Monday when he danced, sang and delivered a fiery speech after registering his candidacy for the Oct. 7 presidential vote. His energetic performance offered a preview of a campaign in which he is likely to push his limits trying to show Venezuelans he is emerging from his illness.
"We're just warming up our engines," Chavez said. Then he took a jab at his rival, saying opposition candidate Henrique Capriles would "run out of gasoline" during the campaign, which begins in July.
Chavez has limited his recent public appearances after undergoing cancer treatment in Cuba. He has not disclosed details such as the type of cancer or the precise location of two tumors that were surgically removed from his pelvic region during the past year.
The former army paratroop commander has been in office since 1999 and says he has begun to lead Venezuela toward socialism through a range of programs for the poor, increased government economic controls and nationalizations of businesses including cement companies and steel plants.
The document presented by Chavez lays out what appears to be a laundry list of tasks he views as unfinished business. Some are specific projects, such as speeding construction of a factory to assemble Chinese-made appliances in Venezuela.
Others are big national goals, such as increasing the country's food production by 45 percent. The oil-exporting country imports most of its food.
Chavez's plan runs 39 pages in its online version and includes ideas Chavez has been talking about for years, such as strengthening Venezuela's military, maintaining state control of the oil industry and promoting a "multi-polar" world.
It also goes further in saying the country should "pass the point of no return, to make the transition toward socialism irreversible."
Capriles and other opposition politicians contend that Chavez's policies have wrecked the economy and made the country unattractive to investment.
The 39-year-old opposition leader exuded youthful energy Sunday by leading a huge crowd of supporters to the same elections office that Chavez visited, working up a sweat as he walked and jogged six miles (10 kilometers) across the city.
Capriles won a February primary vote to become the opposition's single candidate. He says he favors social programs for the poor but also criticizes the government's expropriations of private businesses and says if elected he would encourage private investment to create jobs. Capriles also has promised to fight violent crime and corruption.
Associated Press writer Christopher Toothaker contributed to this report.