Chavez slams Venezuelan opposition after election victory

Story highlights

  • Capriles vows that the opposition will strengthen
  • "The opposition has as a catastrophic vision for the country," Chavez says
  • His comments come a day after he said he had a "pleasant" chat with his opponent
  • Chavez says he still supports the Syrian government

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez sharply criticized his political opponents Tuesday and vowed to continue pushing his socialist programs in the oil-rich South American country.

"The opposition has a catastrophic vision for the country," Chavez told reporters. "They deny everything the government achieves."

The comments came a day after Chavez reached out to opposition candidate Henrique Capriles in what he had described in a Twitter post as a "pleasant phone conversation."

"I invite National Unity, respecting our differences!" Chavez wrote.

Capriles also described the conversation in a Twitter post, saying, "I received a call from President Chavez. In the name of 6.5 million Venezuelans, I called for the unity of the country and respect for everyone."

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The Venezuelan president, who won Sunday's election with 55% of the votes to Capriles' 44%, described his victory as the "perfect battle."

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But Capriles' supporters have said the more than 6 million votes the opposition candidate won is a significant showing at the polls. Analysts have said a key question is whether the opposition will lose momentum or gain strength after Sunday's defeat.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Capriles called on supporters of the opposition coalition that backed him to redouble their efforts.

"This path that we began building together, this path continues," he said. "Not against anyone, but in favor of a better future."

Capriles said he was still weighing whether or not to run in the upcoming election for governor in Miranda state, where he served as governor before resigning earlier this year to run for president.

The 40-year-old opposition candidate said he did not believe there had been fraud in the election. But he said the "machinery" of Chavez's government created obstacles for his candidacy.

"I faced more resources, all the infrastructure of the state, all the campaign of discrediting," he said. "It was brutal what we had to face Sunday."

But Chavez told reporters that his campaign had overcome obstacles to win, saying that his opponents had used "infinite resources" and international influence in their push for the presidency.

He said Tuesday that he plans to continue building on the policies he had implemented during his previous 13 years in office.

Asked whether his government still supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Chavez said, "We will continue supporting the only government that Syria has. We advocate for peace in Syria and the whole world."

Chavez, who has been president since 1999, said his government would hash out a more detailed plan "with goals, strategies and resources" for his next six-year term.

"In contrast with the opposition candidate, we did not hide anything. What is our proposal? Socialism. ... The country knows who we are and where we're going," he said.

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