Sunday, February 15, 2009

Chavez wins constitution vote in Venezuela

Results from today's voting in Venezuela, where constitutional changes proposed by President Hugo Chavez were approved, probably came as a shock of reality to the new government in the United States. Venezuelans voted to remove term limits and allow Chavez, the leftist leader who is more than halfway through his second term, to run for office indefinitely, according to the McClatchy News Service in Washington, D.C. His current term expires in 2012. Today's vote was the second time Chavez tried to have Venezuela's two-term limit removed. A previous effort was defeated in 2007. But Chavez, who pledges to turn Venezuela into a socialist state, is a hero to poor Venezuelans for using the country's oil revenues to benefit society at large. Chavez's government has nationalized major industries and turned income from rising oil prices into food- and housing-price subsidies, free medical care and free schooling. But the recent downturn in the world economy has cut Venezuela's oil revenues and is expected to lead to cuts in government spending. Chavez said after today's election that he was eager to meet with the new U.S. president, Barak Obama. Chavez and the previous U.S. president, George W. Bush, had an antagonistic relationship exemplified by Chavez's characterization of Bush as "the devil" at the United Nations in 2006.

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