September 25, 2012 / 7:24 PM / 7 years ago

FACTBOX-What does Henrique Capriles want for Venezuela?

CARACAS, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Venezuela's opposition
presidential candidate, Henrique Capriles, defines himself as a
center-left "progressive" follower of the business-friendly but
socially conscious Brazilian economic model. 
    He faces President Hugo Chavez in an Oct. 7 election.
 Here are some of his main policy positions:
    
    OIL
    * Capriles denies the opposition wants to privatize state
oil company PDVSA as some "Chavista" officials allege. He
insists the vast energy enterprise will remain in government
hands if he wins. He has, however, vowed that PDVSA will be
"de-politicized," starting with the removal of its president and
current energy minister, Rafael Ramirez. Rank-and-file workers
need not fear for their jobs, Capriles has said, despite their
overwhelming allegiance to Chavez.
    * Like the government, Capriles wants the OPEC nation to
hike oil production to fund development. But beyond talking
about wooing more foreign investment and accelerating projects
in the huge Orinoco Belt, he is vague about how to achieve that.
He frequently cites Norway as an example of a country that has
used its oil riches properly to diversify the economy.
    * Capriles opposes Chavez's decision to pull Venezuela out
of the World Bank's ICSID arbitration court, where U.S. oil
giants Exxon Mobil Corp and ConocoPhillips are
seeking billions of dollars in compensation for 2007
nationalizations.
    * Capriles says he would not immediately raise the price of
gasoline, which for years has been the cheapest in the world due
to big government subsidies. The subject is a touchy one for
Venezuelans who remember deadly riots over price hikes in 1989.
Capriles has said he would start a debate about the issue with
an eye to eventually increasing fuel costs.
    
    NATIONALIZATIONS
    * Capriles opposes more nationalizations but says sweeping
takeovers carried out by the Chavez government since 1999 cannot
be undone overnight. Rather, he has said that each of the
hundreds of nationalized companies and projects should be
studied case by case to see if there is justification for
returning businesses to private hands, or for setting up some
form of joint ownership with workers.
    * Development of the economy, Capriles says, can only be
done when the fear of nationalizations has gone. He cites the
failure to develop tourism - despite Venezuela's extraordinary
natural beauty from the Caribbean coast and Amazon jungle to the
Andean mountains - as a classic example of the deterrent effect
of takeovers. "No one here even wants to build a hostel for
tourists ... The owners are scared that a minister will go one
day, and he won't like the coffee, and they'll be expropriated."
      
    CURRENCY 
    * Capriles says the two-tier currency controls in existence
- three-tier if the black market is included - have not achieved
their aim of slowing inflation or preventing capital flight.
Their removal, however, cannot be rapid and depends on the
creation of investor confidence and economic stability under a
post-Chavez government, he says.
    * All pre-Chavez and Chavez-era debt, whether in local
bolivars or foreign currency, would be respected, Capriles says,
even though he criticizes the current government for borrowing
far more than he says the country needs.  
    
    SOCIAL POLICIES
    * While most opposition candidates say crime is Venezuela's
main problem, Capriles has made education his flagship policy,
pointing to a strong record of opening new schools in Miranda
state, where he is governor. " P roper education is the long-term
solution to our crime phenomenon," he said.
    * He does, however, also lambast the government's failure to
stem a level of violent crime that terrifies Venezuelans and
visitors alike, with s t atistics on a par with some war zones.
"The central government has delivered 18 security plans - all of
them have failed. Pure politicking," he says.
    * He applauds Chavez's commitment to building clinics and
schools in low-income areas and offering free services, but says
the programs have been chaotically and often corruptly
administered. He proposes keeping the best of Chavez's
much-vaunted "Missions" for the poor, while administering them
better to ensure they really benefit the most needy.
    * Capriles's camp plans to eliminate some off-budget funds,
used to finance projects ranging from weapons purchases to
building irrigation systems, and bring greater transparency to
government finances.
    * He promises to create 500,000 new jobs a year.
      
    FOREIGN RELATIONS
    * Capriles vows to prioritize relationships with countries
in the Americas and "democratic" nations, as opposed to Chavez's
ties with politically allied governments, m a ny of which are far
away and have questionable rights records, such as Iran and
Belarus. 
    * China, however, will remain an essential partner of
Venezuela, he says. "No one in the world can do without China."
    * Capriles sees no need to cut relations with Cuba, where
Chavez has had a particularly close relationship with the
communist-led government, but he says ties must be put on a
transparent footing. He has implied that the thousands of Cubans
in Venezuela - from shantytown doctors to intelligence and
security advisers - should be replaced by Venezuelans, and he
has said the country should revise its agreement to supply oil
to Cuba on preferential terms. "We will not give away oil to
anyone, but neither will we stop selling to anyone." 
   
    ARMED FORCES
    * Capriles has been guarded on the delicate topic of
Venezuela's armed forces. Chavez is a former soldier and has
packed the senior ranks with his supporters, especially after a
brief, military-led coup against him in 2002. 
    * Capriles says most soldiers simply want a stable,
democratic Venezuela, and he believes the armed forces will
stand by the result of the Oct. 7 vote, whichever way it goes.

 (Reporting by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Kieran Murray and
Claudia Parsons)
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