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Published on Oct 10, 2012 by

At his first press conference after his victory in last Sunday’s Venezuelan presidential election, Hugo Chavez reaffirmed his support for the Syrian government during the current unrest.

Human rights groups claim that after 19 months of unrest in Syria tens of thousands of people have been killed.

Venezuela has been one of the staunchest defenders of the Syrian government. Since the unrest began, Venezuela has provided three shipments of oil to Syria.

Chavez went on to attack his frequent foe, the United States, for their support of the foriegn backed militant groups in Syria and their involvement in the unrest.

Speaking about last Sunday’s presidential election, Chavez attacked the western and mainstream media for calling his 11-point victory against opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Randonski close.

The Venezuelan president said that on January 10th, inauguration day, he would submit a second socialist plan to the national assembly. Chavez also said that he would increase dialogue with the opposition after the election.

 

Hugo Chávez comes out swinging in first post-election press conference

Venezuelan leader lambasts Washington, backs Assad and laments death of Gaddafi in ebullient address

The Guardian

Hugo Chávez press conference

Hugo Chávez speaks during a press conference with a portrait of independence hero Simón Bolívar in the background. Photograph: Miguel Gutierrez/EPA

Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez may have started a new term, but it was the old, anti-imperialist, anti-US drive that characterised his first press conference since winning re-election for six more years.

Lambasting Washington, backing Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad and accusing Europe of cashing in on the death of Muammar Gaddafi, Chávez came out swinging after his comfortable victory on Sunday.

On ebullient and provocative form, the president accused the US of fomenting unrest in the Middle East, particularly in Syria. “This is a crisis that has been planned and provoked … Syria is a sovereign nation. This crisis has a single cause: the world has entered into a new era of imperialism. It’s madness. The US government has been among the most irresponsible. I hope Obama rethinks this,” he said.

Venezuela has supported the Syrian government by shipping oil to make up for shortfalls caused by US-initiated embargoes.

“How can I not support Assad. He’s the legitimate leader … We will continue in our support and advocate peace,” Chávez told reporters at the presidential palace in Miraflores.

He also lamented the death of his friend, former Libyan leader Gaddafi. “The way he died was a barbarity. Gaddafi was assassinated almost on TV.” He said the former Libyan leader had sent him a last message, in which he compared himself to Che Guevara: “I shall die like Che – I will be a martyr.”

Europe, he said, had frozen billions in Libyan assets, which was “convenient” at a time when it was facing its own financial crisis.

Chávez accused outside forces of trying to oust him in the presidential election.

“We didn’t just defeat [his rival, Henrique] Capriles. We also defeated an international coalition. This wasn’t just a domestic battle.”

He said voters had been inundated with 500,000 automated messages from the US and Europe urging them to back his Capriles.

“How much did this cost? Who has the capacity to do such a thing?”, he asked. “The great transnational phone companies were supporting Capriles. It was electoral harassment.”

Friendlier foreign forces were, however, quick to congratulate Chávez on his victory. Other leftwing leaders in Latin America gave celebration calls. Russian president Vladimir Putin reportedly told him the election news was the “best present I could have for my 60th birthday”.

Chávez also castigated the foreign media’s coverage of the election, which he won with 55.2% of the vote against Capriles’s 44.1%.

“I’ve read that Venezuela is divided. But the US is also divided. Every country is divided,” Chávez said. “I won by 10 points and the foreign media call the victory slim. How much did Hollande win by in France? How much will Obama win by? You know Obama is my candidate? … I would vote for him if I could.”

With six more years in power, the Venezuelan president said he would ask the opposition for proposals and look for possible areas of collaboration, though he emphasised that past efforts had come to nothing.

“The opposition has a catastrophic vision for the country,” he said. “They deny everything the government achieves.”

• This article was amended on Wednesday 10 October to correct the figures on Chávez’s margin of victory.