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Chavez addresses supporters in the rain

Amid driving rain, an exuberant Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez pranced onto the stage and sang the national anthem on Thursday (October 4) as he started his closing rally ahead of Sunday's (October 7) election. Hundreds of thousands of Chavez supporters wearing their signature red shirts waved flags and cheered as he appeared on stage. The singing Chavez faces the toughest election of his 14-year rule on Sunday in a vote pitting his charisma and oil-financed largesse against fresh-faced challenger Henrique Capriles' promise of jobs, safer streets and an end to cronyism. Chavez, 58, staged a remarkable comeback from cancer this year and wants a new six-year term to consolidate his self-styled socialist revolution in the OPEC nation. Capriles, a boyish 40-year-old state governor, has run a marathon eight-month campaign that has galvanized a fractured opposition and set up its best shot at the presidency since Chavez's election in 1998.

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