A little more than a month from the October 7 Venezuelan presidential election, President Hugo Chavez and opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski have heavily increased their campaign spending—but by how much remains unknown. According to Rafael Guzman, finance administrator for the opposition coalition, Chavez has been able to maintain a strong campaign spending advantage by tapping into funds from the state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA, and a separate development fund, Fonden. Chavez supporters, on the other hand, accuse Capriles of being bankrolled by wealthy businessman and bankers who have fled the country. While Venezuelan election law requires candidates to present detailed monthly financial reports to electoral officials, the National Electoral Council doesn’t publicly provide financial figures.
The director of the Americas program at the Carter Center, Jennifer McCoy, observed that “because there’s no regulated public financing, then that means that all of the sources of money are private or undisclosed, and so it’s very difficult to assess how much each side is spending and where the money comes from.”
The latest poll from Caracas-based polling company Datanalisis revealed that Chavez maintained 46.8 percent support compared with 34.2 percent for Capriles. While this lead has narrowed since June, Capriles still faces unlimited radio and television slots by President Chavez as well as countless billboards and signs of the president throughout Caracas and the country.