Girish Gupta

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Venezuelans celebrate Chavez' presidential win
Oct. 08, 2012 — Caracas, Venezuela

Featured on ABC's PM



ASHLEY HALL: Wild celebrations have engulfed the Venezuelan capital Caracas, to mark the re-election of the president Hugo Chavez for another six-year term. He won with more than 54 per cent of the votes.

Girish Gupta is a British foreign correspondent based in Caracas. He was outside the presidential palace when I spoke to him a little earlier.

GIRISH GUPTA: Well, I'm just outside the Miraflores presidential palace. I've just been inside and I came out to have a look at these immense crowds. I mean there is a sea of red below me waving, waving flags you can hear the incessant air horns, in a minute I'm sure you'll hear a firework going off.

They're from the street down here, which is particularly dangerous but yeah there is a sea of red as far as I can see. And these guys are very happy.

ASHLEY HALL: You're saying that the crowds are quite joyous. There was some concern that if the result was very close that there could be some violence?

GIRISH GUPTA: The fact is it wasn't very close. I don't think there will be any violence, the opposition are simply not here to fight them they are I'd say at home crying.

ASHLEY HALL: You say it wasn't a very close result in the end, the opinion polls were very mixed going in to this election what do you think happened?

GIRISH GUPTA: Well I mean opinion polls here are very difficult to take seriously. There's so much bias here and also people are scared to say that they will vote for Chavez.

Saying that, he did well, I mean I've been up since five in the morning saying, speaking to people. Obviously in the wealthy areas people are telling me they are voting for Capriles but in the barrios today and over the last few months they've been telling me you know what, yeah we did love Chavez but we've just had enough.

This is one of the most dangerous countries in the world, it's got a murder rate worse than Baghdad, this city Caracas. People are sick of the inflation and the city is crumbling and they've just had enough, however I can see a sea of red and they voted for Chavez and he won.

ASHLEY HALL: And I read that the turnout was pretty high, about 80 or 81 per cent?

GIRISH GUPTA: It was a huge turnout apparently the biggest in decades and that just tells you how polarised and how political this place is.

ASHLEY HALL: Tell me a little bit about the campaign that the two different camps ran?

GIRISH GUPTA: Campaigning in this country, I mean Hugo Chavez is a, he's used laws to allow himself to be on TV constantly and he can come on whenever he wants and takeover all the TV channels.

Now why that's technically and legally isn't campaigning, it is very much used as a campaigning tool, showing off houses he's been giving out, showing off people who have been given subsidies or gifts from the government. That obviously does work for a campaigning tool, that's why I think Capriles has done so well against that but clearly it wasn't enough.

ASHLEY HALL: You say that it was a significant margin of victory but it was reduced over his last two wins down from 26 per cent in 2006 and 16 per cent back in 1998. There's some speculation that that result may prompt some changes in the cabinet and government policy. What do you think, is that, how likely is that?

GIRISH GUPTA: I don't see that as too likely. Chavez has won and I think that's it. I mean I think the opposition is going to crumble, it's very unorganised, it always has been and it did well to get so far.

I think it's going to crumble now, so I don't think Chavez will feel that he needs to do anything about it. He has won. If anything I think it may go the other way and things will get even tougher and even more socialist, or the self-styled socialism we've got here.

ASHLEY HALL: Girish Gupta, a British foreign correspondent, joining me from Caracas.

Filed from
Caracas, Venezuela






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© Girish Gupta