While President Hugo Chavez has made a valiant effort to campaign or appear to be campaigning as much as opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, his efforts to appear more in public seem to be having the opposite effect. Every time Chavez appears in public, it seems to take a toll on him, forcing him to cancel rallies that had been announced previously.
Last week, President Chavez was not that visible until his Apure appearance, which in itself was a surprise as he should have no problem winning that state. In that appearance he left some doubts about both his health and his emotional state that left many questions lingering in the air.
The next day Chavez was supposed to appear in Los Teques to inaugurate four subway stations, but he failed to show up, sending his Vice-President instead in a city that is likely to go for Capriles.
Then yesterday, Chavez went to his traditional stronghold of Catia in Western Caracas in his Chavezmobile, but once he arrived at where he was supposed to give his speech, it was cancelled and the live transmission on the Government’s TV channel was suspended. Some said that Chavez was mad at the low attendance, with former Mayor of the Libertador District Freddy Bernal justifying the low attendance by saying that the most important mobilization will be on October 7th. But a second version also said that Chavez showed his discomfort throughout the short 2 Km. ride. In any case, Chavez could surely not escape thinking that Capriles walked through Catia a month ago, with huge crowds following among a route which was larger than Chavez yesterday.
And then today Chavez suspended his visit to Portuguesa State, which will only send more wrong signals to the electorate. Portuguesa is a very pro-Chavez State, where not showing up may actually hurt the Venezuelan President after the visit was announced.
While I continue to be very cautious about the outcome of the Presidential election on October 7th. such signals, combined with the infrastructure accidents in August, which are not yet reflected in the polls and Chavez’ best “new” friend, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos inviting Henrique Capriles to in Bogota, make me wonder if people know more than I know and I should be more positive at this time.