Venezuela’s Chavez in Dogfight

Sunday’s Presidential election in Venezuela pits Socialist strongman Hugo Chavez against the most formidable opponent he has faced in his 14 years in office. Coalition opposition leader Henrique Capriles has gained ground by waging an aggressive door-to-door campaign. But even Capriles describes himself as a David facing a Goliath, and recent polls show him trailing by about 10 percent. Chavez enjoys clearcut advantages, including billions of dollars in oil-funded handouts to court key voter blocs. Al Jazeera reports from Venezuela on the run-up to the election.

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Richard Beales and Raul Gallegos with Reuters discuss how Chavez raids the treasury of PDVSA, the Venezuelan state oil company, to bankroll his political and social programs. As a result, PDVSA is now a debt-ridden enterprise, forced to pay its suppliers with IOUs.

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