CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Preventing loquacious Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez from campaigning for re-election on the airwaves for more than three minutes isn’t an easy task, but that’s what opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles is demanding.
Capriles criticized his adversary on Tuesday for attempting to take political advantage of special broadcasts ahead of Venezuela’s Oct. 7 presidential election. Capriles demanded the National Elections Council intervene.
The council’s directors have approved campaign regulations that prohibit television and radio messages that favor a presidential candidate to run longer than three minutes.
The new rules take effect Sunday when the campaign officially starts. It’s unclear whether they will limit the president’s frequent and lengthy use of special broadcasts known as “cadenas,” which all networks are required to air.
“We are demanding that there by no cadenas starting on Sunday,” said Capriles at a news conference in Caracas. “He can lead his campaign on television, but without using cadenas.”
Chavez has not responded to Capriles’ remarks. He has been making frequent use of cadenas in recent weeks, talking on television and radio for several hours a couple times a week.
The leftist president has frequently warned Venezuelans that Capriles would roll back his banner social programs for the poor. He’s also trumpeting his government’s plans to resolve pressing domestic problems such as widespread violent crime and soaring inflation.
In the past year, Chavez has undergone two surgeries that removed tumors from his pelvic region, most recently in February. That’s meant Chavez has appeared in public less frequently than in the past, a dramatic shift for his 13-year-old presidency.
By contrast, Capriles has spent the past months traveling across the country to drum up support for his candidacy.