Late on the evening of Feb. 15, Venezuela’s National Electoral Council announced that a proposal to end term limits had won with 54% of the vote in a referendum held that day. The government of President Hugo Chávez Frias, whose second six-year term ends in 2012, had pushed hard for the measure. “The doors of the future are wide open,” Chávez, a former lieutenant colonel, shouted from the balcony of the Miraflores presidential palace after the results were announced. “In 2012 there will be presidential elections, and unless God decides otherwise, unless the people decide otherwise, this soldier is already a candidate.”
More than 11 million of almost 17 million eligible voters turned out for the balloting. International observers said the ballot was free and fair, and opposition leaders were quoted as saying they would not contest the vote. A similar proposal was included in a package 69 constitutional amendment that voters narrowly rejected in December 2007. (BBC, Feb. 16)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 15
See our last post on Venezuela.