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Shocker: Chavez Referendum Vote Defeated

From a horrified Associated Press:

Chavez loses constitutional vote

By FRANK BAJAK, Associated Press Writer

CARACAS, Venezuela – Humbled by his first electoral defeat ever, President Hugo Chavez said Monday he may have been too ambitious in asking voters to let him stand indefinitely for re-election and endorse a huge leap to a socialist state.

“I understand and accept that the proposal I made was quite profound and intense,” he said after voters narrowly rejected the sweeping constitutional reforms by 51 percent to 49 percent.

Opposition activists were ecstatic as the results were announced shortly after midnight — with 88 percent of the vote counted, the trend was declared irreversible by elections council chief Tibisay Lucena.

Some shed tears. Others began chanting: “And now he’s going away!”

Without the overhaul, Chavez will be barred from running again in 2012…

Foes of the reform effort — including Roman Catholic leaders, media freedom groups, human rights groups and prominent business leaders — said it would have granted Chavez unchecked power and imperiled basic rights.

Chavez told reporters at the presidential palace that the outcome of Sunday’s balloting had taught him that “Venezuelan democracy is maturing.” His respect for the verdict, he asserted, proves he is a true democratic leader.

From this moment on, let’s be calm,” he proposed, asking for no more street violence like the clashes that marred pre-vote protests. “There is no dictatorship here.” …

The defeated reform package would have created new types of communal property, let Chavez handpick local leaders under a redrawn political map and suspended civil liberties during extended states of emergency.

Other changes would have shortened the workday from eight hours to six, created a social security fund for millions of informal laborers and promoted communal councils where residents decide how to spend government funds.

Nelly Hernandez, a 37-year-old street vendor, cried as she wandered outside the presidential palace early Monday amid broken beer bottles as government workers took apart a stage mounted earlier for a victory fete.

“It’s difficult to accept this, but Chavez has not abandoned us, he’ll still be there for us,” she said between sobs

“He is a man who feels for the people, a man who has suffered, a man who comes from below,” Carlos Orlando Vega, a 47-year-old carpenter’s assistant, said outside a polling station in a Caracas slum on Sunday.

Vega is among tens of thousands of Venezuelans who, under Chavez, have new government-provided homes.

Chavez urged calm and restraint after his Sunday setback.

“I wouldn’t have wanted that Pyrrhic victory,” he said, suggesting a small margin wouldn’t have been enough of a mandate…

What an embarrassment for our watchdog media, who had already trumpeted his victory. (Especially, Reuters, Al Jazeera and Iran’s media outlets.)

Once again the wish had become the father to their reporting.

Of course, in the final analysis it means nothing. Mr. Chavez will simply proceed as planned. He won’t let a little thing like a referendum defeat get in his way.

Still, does this mean he is going to stop oil shipments to the US, as he has previously threatened should the reform vote fail?

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, December 3rd, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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