Chavez declares lead 'irreversible' ahead of vote
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told AFP Tuesday he has an "irreversible" advantage over his rival, Henrique Capriles, in the upcoming October 7 election.
"The advantage we hold, according to serious surveys, is between 15 and 20 points," Chavez said, during a trip to Brazil.
"With just two months to go, this is irreversible," he told AFP as he left the Argentine embassy in Brasilia, where he signed an agreement on oil cooperation with his counterpart Cristina Kirchner.
"The campaign is going well, we are winning, and we will win by a knockout," Chavez insisted.
Asked about his health, the president said with an easy smile he is "very well."
The 58-year-old has declared himself "free" of the cancer he was diagnosed with over a year ago, and which forced him to undergo radiation and chemotherapy treatments.
He is seeking a third term in the October showdown. If he wins and serves out his full term, he could rack up 20 years in office.
Despite opinion polls putting the incumbent, a staunch US critic, well in the lead, Capriles has claimed he will win handily, even predicting a 10-point margin of victory.
Capriles, 40, has waged an intensive door-to-door campaign for votes and is counting on undecided voters -- estimated at 35 percent of the electorate -- to help him come out on top.
The former governor of Miranda state, which includes parts of the Caracas metro area, has vowed to tackle what he calls the country's three main problems -- poverty, unemployment and violence.
Caracas has disclosed few details about Chavez's health. In May, Chavez sought treatment in Cuba, his closest regional ally, after a recurrence of the cancer he first disclosed last year.
Chavez was in Brazil Tuesday to formalize his country's accession to full member status in regional trading bloc Mercosur.