Chávez accepts defeat —”for now”

Having lost his constitution reform vote by a razor-thin margin, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez said he will accept the results—with caveats. “I faced a great dilemma,” he said. “I wanted to wait until the results were irreversible, but we cannot subject the Venezuelan people to a long wait… I am proud of this effort.” He admitted: “For now, we can’t do it.” (El Universal, Mexico, Dec. 3) “This is not a defeat. This is another ‘for now,”‘ Chávez said, repeating a famous quote from when, as a paratrooper in 1992, he acknowledged his coup attempt had failed. (Reuters, Dec. 3)

The opposition only gained about 300,000 votes over its showing in the 2006 legislative elections, but about three million voters who had supported Chavez in the past abstained from the constitutional referendum. “I was mistaken in choosing the strategic moment to make the proposal,” said Chavez. “It might be that these two or three million, and maybe even more, still aren’t ready to adopt an openly socialist plan.” (Weekly News Update on the Americas, Dec. 9)

However, in his concession speech, Chávez accused the “Committees of Civil Resistance” organizing to oppose his government as being “practically Committees of Civil War.” (Informativo, Pacifica Radio, Dec. 3)

Our last post on Venezuela.