Venezuela’s Chavez lashes out at former allies for distancing themselves in election

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Chavez: Dissident party has joined opposition

CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chavez lashed out Wednesday at former political allies who have distanced themselves from him, accusing them of joining Venezuela’s opposition ahead of September congressional elections.

Chavez harshly criticized Fatherland For All, a leftist party that had traditionally supported the president’s socialist government, calling its leaders “traitors” and predicting its candidates will be defeated in the Sept. 26 vote.

“They are allied with the right wing,” Chavez said, speaking to members of his ruling party. “The reformists can stay behind. Here we have true revolutionaries.”

The falling out between Chavez and Fatherland For All began months ago. But the breakup appeared definitive Wednesday after Chavez condemned the party’s decision to not form an alliance with his Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela ahead of the elections.

Chavez also seemed irritated by the party’s criticism of what it called his uncompromising attitude and authoritarian tendencies.

The split is significant because it could divide the pro-Chavez vote in some regions, political analysts have said.

Chavez has repeatedly warned his allies that an opposition victory in September’s elections would be a devastating blow to his efforts to transform Venezuela into a socialist state, because adversaries could veto bills proposed by his party.

The president’s supporters currently have an unbeatable majority in the National Assembly after most opposition parties boycotted Venezuela’s last legislative elections in 2005.

The opposition is competing this time, though, and aims to field a single candidate for each seat up for grabs.

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