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Tight Vote Expected in Venezuela on Lifting Term Limits

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Author Topic: Tight Vote Expected in Venezuela on Lifting Term Limits  (Read 109 times)
bella
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« on: February 15, 2009, 04:50:33 pm »
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Tight Vote Expected in Venezuela on Lifting Term Limits



CARACAS, Venezuela — Awaking to the sound of fireworks in this city’s slums, Venezuelans began voting Sunday on a referendum on lifting term limits for President Hugo Chávez and other elected officials. The election could open the way for Mr. Chávez to hold onto power well beyond the end of his current term in 2013.

 “The destiny of the country is in play,” said Alicia Villegas, 59, a pro-Chávez economist who voted in favor of the president’s proposal Sunday morning at the Pedro Emilio Coll School in Coche, a working class district of southern Caracas. “I’m voting for the continuation of the process that we have begun.”

A tight vote was expected after weeks of fierce campaigning on both sides, marked by antigovernment protests and attacks by supporters of Mr. Chávez on institutions viewed as critical of the president, like the Israeli Embassy and the Vatican’s diplomatic mission. Mr. Chávez resurrected the push to lift term limits after voters narrowly rejected a previous indefinite reelection measure, bundled within a broader constitutional overhaul, in December 2007.

 Charges of improper use of state institutions to support Mr. Chávez’s proposal marred the campaigning, with Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma and other recently-elected mayors and governors who are critical of the president leading the opposition. Antigovernment students joined the fray, facing tear-gas reprisals from security forces in protests in Caracas and provincial cities in recent weeks.

“I wish I had woken up this Sunday morning trying to resolve the problem of trash collection or the problem of crime,” Mr. Ledezma told reporters as he cast his ballot here. “But, well, they shoved us into this referendum alley.”

On the eve of the vote, Mr. Chávez ridiculed his domestic opposition. But he sounded a conciliatory note to Washington, saying that he was ready to engage in direct talks with President Obama in a bid to repair relations. The statement marked an evolution in his view of Mr. Obama, whom he described last month as having the “same stench” as his predecessor in the White House, George W. Bush.

“Any day is propitious for talking with President Barack Obama,” Mr. Chávez said at a news conference here with foreign journalists the day before the referendum, which until the last minute brought out the aggressive campaigning tactics of the president and his allies.

His government shifted attention from festering domestic issues like a surge in homicides by expelling a Spanish lawmaker who was here as an electoral observer. The Spanish member of the European Parliament, Luis Herrero, was forced out of the country Friday night after he had publicly described Mr. Chávez as a “dictator” in criticism of the electoral process.

The Obama administration seems to have adopted a nonbombastic approach to dealing with Venezuela, even as it was faced with questions over the referendum campaign. “That’s an internal matter with regard to Venezuela,” Robert Wood, a State Department spokesman, said when asked this month about the referendum.

Mr. Chávez initially expressed optimism over Mr. Obama’s electoral victory and a willingness to re-engage with the United States. But Mr. Chávez cooled to Mr. Obama in January after the American leader voiced concern over reports of Venezuelan assistance to Colombian guerrillas.

Fears of a sharp economic slowdown in this year seemed to weigh on voters here more than Mr. Chávez’s aggressive policy of attempting to diminish Washington’s influence in Latin America. “Chávez is trying to camouflage the oil-price crisis with his elections and shows,” said Carlos Segundo Moreno, 52, a businessman who voted in the Coche district of Caracas.

“But the time has come to ask this man to leave,” Mr. Moreno said. “We are tired of the same government, the same president, the same shouting and the same insults.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/16/world/americas/16venez.html?partner=rss&emc=rss
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bella
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« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2009, 12:35:00 pm »
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Chavez calls Venezuela vote mandate for socialism

CARACAS, Venezuela – President Hugo Chavez says a referendum victory that removed limits on his re-election is a mandate to intensify his socialist agenda for decades to come. Opponents warn of an impending dictatorship.

Both sides had called the outcome of Sunday's vote key to the future of this South American country, split down the middle between those who worship the president for redistributing Venezuela's oil riches and those who see him as a power-hungry autocrat.

"Those who voted "yes" today voted for socialism, for revolution," Chavez thundered to thousands of ecstatic supporters jamming the streets around the presidential palace. Fireworks lit up the Caracas skyline, and one man walked though the crowd carrying a painting of Chavez that read: "Forever."

Josefa Dugarte stared at the crowd from the stoop of her apartment building with look of dismay.

"These people don't realize what they have done," she muttered.

With 94 percent of the vote counted, official results showed the amendment passing 54 percent to 46 percent, an irreversible trend, and opposition leaders accepted the results. Tibisay Lucena, president of National Electoral Council, said turnout was 67 percent.

The constitutional overhaul allows all public officials to run for re-election as many times as they want, removing barriers to a Chavez candidacy in the next presidential elections in 2012 and beyond.

"In 2012 there will be presidential elections, and unless God decides otherwise, unless the people decide otherwise, this soldier is already a candidate," Chavez said to applause. First elected in 1998, he has said he might stay in power until 2049, when he'll be 95.

But analysts said Chavez shouldn't count on getting re-elected just yet.

"Chavez's intention is clear: He aspires to be president for life," said Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington. "He is convinced he embodies the popular will and is indispensable to the country's progress. But his capacity to pull this off is far from assured."

He said the global financial crisis and the plunging price of oil, which accounts for 94 percent of Venezuela's exports and nearly half its federal budget, will limit Chavez's ability to maintain the level of public spending that has fueled his popularity.

"The greatest challenge the government now faces is governing in the face of crisis and not falling into triumphalism," said Miguel Tinker Salas, a professor at Pomona College in Claremont, California.

At their campaign headquarters, Chavez opponents hugged one another, and some cried. They said the results were skewed by Chavez's broad use of state resources to get out the vote, through a battery of state-run news media, pressure on 2 million public employees and frequent presidential speeches which all television stations were required to air.

With the courts, the legislature and the election council all under his influence, and now with no limits on his re-election, officials say Chavez is virtually unstoppable.

"Effectively this will become a dictatorship," opposition leader Omar Barboza told The Associated Press. "It's control of all the powers, lack of separation of powers, unscrupulous use of state resources, persecution of adversaries."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090216/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/lt_venezuela_referendum;_ylt=AjBNi9s8g.TogdVMkl3zfv5I2ocA
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bella
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« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2009, 12:38:21 pm »
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pretty scary
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caskur
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« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2009, 11:23:18 am »
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“Any day is propitious for talking with President Barack Obama,” Mr. Chávez said at a news conference here with foreign journalists the day before the referendum, which until the last minute brought out the aggressive campaigning tactics of the president and his allies.

Now there is a word I haven't seen spoken before. Propitious.

pretty scary


Why scary? Do you mean socialism? In some countries, it is the only system that works.

The murder rate is bothering them.
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bella
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« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2009, 06:55:42 pm »
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i was actually referring to chavez as the "scarey" one. 

for the record, i am not a big fan of socialism
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caskur™
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« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2009, 03:46:34 am »
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i was actually referring to chavez as the "scarey" one. 

for the record, i am not a big fan of socialism


I am....but I think it is seen differently in the USA where people think socialism and communism is the same thing and it isn't.

Healthy societies from my experience have a healthy combination of socialism and capitalism.

Somethings should be run by the government and stay that way....while private business NEEDS to be heavily moderated.....


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bella
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« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2009, 07:59:17 am »
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interesting
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