Hugo Chavez wins, Venezuelan people chalk up victory
Venezuelan socialists netted another electoral victory, Feb. 15, winning a popular referendum on constitutional changes. The changes will remove the two-term limit on elected office.
The referendum, which easily passed by 55 to 45 percent, with 99% reporting, will allow Venezuela's current president, Hugo Chavez Frias, to be a candidate in the 2012 presidential elections.
“Those who voted 'yes' today voted for socialism, for revolution,” Chavez declared, in a victory speech from what he dubbed the ‘people's balcony’ of the Presidential Palace, where tens of thousands of red-clad supporters gathered.
“This soldier is now a pre-candidate for the 2012 presidential elections,” Chavez stated. He says 'pre-candidate' since the United Socialist Party of Venezuela requires that all candidates be elected in a democratic primary from the grassroots. Chavez, of humble beginnings, has a military background and first became a household name after he led an uprising against the corrupt government of Carlos Andres Perez in 1992.
Venezuela's opposition parties and candidates, closely allied with U.S. business interests, unanimously accepted the loss. In many of the 15 electoral process that have occurred under the ten years of Chavez's administration, opposition leaders attempted to destabilize the country after a vote, refusing to recognize the results. This time around, right-wing domestic and international media were unable to question the result, as Venezuela's electoral system has gained worldwide recognition in recent years. The election was considered ‘free and fair’ by the over 1200 electoral observers present during the process.
President Chavez read a letter during his speech from his closest ally, former president of Cuba Fidel Castro.
Fidel Castro wrote, “Congratulations to you and the Venezuelan people for this victory, whose importance cannot be measured.” President Chavez responded, “This victory is also yours Fidel, a victory for Cuba and for all the nations of our America.”