Hugo Chávez wins a referendum on changing the constitution
BY WINNING a clear victory in a referendum on Sunday February 15th the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, has succeeded in removing constitutional limits to his indefinite re-election. The president, who has governed the country since 1999, immediately declared, to a crowd of cheering supporters at the presidential palace, that “this soldier is a pre-candidate for the presidency, for the period 2013-19”.
Venezuela’s electoral authority (CNE) announced that 54.4% of votes were cast in favour of removing term limits for all popularly elected officials, with 45.4% voting against. It was a bitter blow for an opposition that had defeated the re-election initiative in a December 2007 referendum on a larger constitutional reform. Mr Chávez merely repackaged the proposal and threw the entire apparatus of government behind a blitzkrieg campaign to force it through.
“More than a struggle against a proposal,” said Omar Barboza, the president of A New Time, an opposition party, “this has been a struggle against the state”. Mr Chávez, he told a press conference, had shown “no scruples” in using public resources to wage his campaign. Public buildings and vehicles were plastered with pro-Chávez propaganda. State television and radio channels turned over almost their entire resources to promoting the campaign. And even the Caracas metro obliged passengers to listen to campaign jingles. The response of the CNE, which is dominated by Chávez supporters, was timid and slow. .. (READ MORE)