Venezuelans backing President Hugo Chavez said they will start selling lottery tickets Saturday to raise funds to beat back a recall vote scheduled for Aug. 15.
Supporters are hoping to raise as much as 8 billion bolivars ($4.2 million) by selling 8 million tickets, Diosdado Cabello, Chavez's former vice president, said at a televised news conference. Prizes include an apartment and two cars donated by Chavez supporters, he said.
``We hope to raise enough money in two weeks to support the campaign,'' said Cabello, who is also running for the governorship of Miranda state. Cabello would not elaborate on the campaign's overall spending.
The president's opponents accuse him of using increased government spending to win the recall. Chavez's popularity has surged in recent opinion polls after government spending on health, education and public works more than doubled to 13.5 trillion bolivars ($7.04 billion) in the first four months of this year from the same period in 2003.
In a poll this month, 54.5 percent of registered voters favored recalling Chavez down from 65.8 percent in favor of recalling him in March. The poll, by Consultores 21 and funded by seven private companies, had a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points. A separate poll last month by Washington-based Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research Inc., paid for by RCTV television station, also showed Chavez gaining.
His opponents have been trying for more than two years to chase the former paratrooper from office, following an unsuccessful coup in April 2002.
-- Author, Peter Wilson in Caracas email@example.com.
Note: August 9th-15th is Venezuela Week of Solidarity, a week of events in solidarity with the Venezuelan people, and to tell the US and UK governments (who've already backed one coup against Chávez) to keep their hands off Venezuela!...
Most of the events take place at the rampART in East London http://www.rampart.co.nr
Further info from firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.handsoffvenezuela.org