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Chavez Blocking Vote on His Rule ^ | Oct 29,2002 - 11:35 PM ET | ALEXANDRA OLSON, AP

Posted on 10/30/2002 12:09:44 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - During his campaign to dismantle a corrupt political system, Hugo Chavez's favorite tool was a popular referendum. Now, the president is infuriating opponents by snubbing a petition to hold a referendum on his rule.

The drive for signatures gathered force at an eastern Caracas plaza that has been occupied for seven days by more than 100 dissident military officers and thousands of civilians demanding Chavez's ouster.

Opposition political parties say more than 1.2 million people, or 10 percent of registered voters, have signed - the number required by Venezuela's constitution to petition for a referendum on "matters of national importance." They plan to deliver the signatures next week, and want the vote held in December.

Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel rebuffed the petition, insisting Monday "we can easily get 10, 15, 20 percent of the people to say that they are against the referendum."

Critics say that would be taking a page out the playbook of Chavez's good friend, Fidel Castro, who scorned a petitioning drive to hold a referendum for more civil liberties in Cuba earlier this year.

Instead, Castro supported a counter-petition for a constitutional reform declaring the island's socialist system untouchable. Castro's government later claimed that 8.1 million of Cuba's 8.2 million eligible voters signed the "socialism forever" petition - a typically resounding return of 98.7 percent in favor.

But Chavez doesn't plan to engage in a battle of petitions, arguing that the constitution requires petitioners to wait until August - the midpoint of Chavez's term - before demanding a vote.

Unlike the referendum proposed by the opposition, the result of the August vote would be binding.

Former Supreme Court Justice Hildegard Rondon de Sanso, a Chavez critic, said the president has a point in saying that the only constitutional way to oust a president is in the midterm referendum.

But most Chavez opponents won't hear of waiting until next year. They say Chavez can no longer hold together a country in economic tailspin. Polarization over Chavez's leftist policies helped trigger an April coup that briefly ousted the president and left dozens dead.

Anti-President Hugo Chavez protesters hold a rally in support of dissident military officers in Altamira Plaza, Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 28, 2002. Venezuela's government on Monday condemned a small rebellion by soldiers and civilians, charging it is destabilizing this oil-producing country and setting a dangerous precedent for Latin America. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

The largest labor union is threatening an indefinite general strike as a last recourse for ousting Chavez if the president tries to block the referendum.

"What is of more national importance than asking Venezuelans about what is happening in the country?" railed opposition lawmaker Leopoldo Puchi. "These are just excuses, legal traps, obstacles to a democratic way out by a government intent on provoking confrontation and violence."

Petitioners argue Chavez is resisting the same tool he used to push through a new constitution in 1999 - paving the way for elections that stacked congress and state governments with his allies.

In 2000, Chavez convoked a referendum to oust the opposition-aligned leadership of the Venezuelan Workers Confederation. Labor leaders condemned the vote, but resigned out of embarrassment when they lost.

The legal wrangling over a petition is confounding efforts by the secretary general of the Organization of American States, Cesar Gaviria, to broker peace talks this week.

Gaviria said "significant efforts" were made to establish negotiations between the leftist Chavez and domestic opponents but details need to be ironed out before talks could formally start.

He is trying to persuade the two sides to discuss other issues, such as reforming the country's electoral system. He has argued that neither Chavez opponents or supporters will accept a vote organized by the current electoral council, which is seen as corrupt and untrustworthy.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: communism; cuba; latinamerica; latinamericalist; venezuela
Lawmakers Preserve Cuba's Socialism *** HAVANA (AP) - Cuban lawmakers voted unanimously to make socialism an ``irrevocable'' part of the constitution in an effort to ensure the nation will remain socialist long after Fidel Castro is gone. More than 500 members of Cuba's unicameral National Assembly voted late Wednesday to declare that ``capitalism will never return again'' to the Caribbean island. Deputies' names were called out in alphabetical order and each one stood up and shouted ``Si!'' into a microphone. Of Cuba's 578 deputies, 559 were present and all voted affirmatively.

Deputies grew emotional and almost giddy during the tally, eventually applauding loudly after each vote. When the final vote had been declared unanimous, the deputies first stood stoically at attention for the Cuban national anthem, then held hands and swayed back in forth as they sang the socialist anthem, ``Internationale.'' Castro presided over the session and afterward personally greeted many of the lawmakers in the assembly.

………. Government opponents said the measure also appears aimed at undermining the Varela Project, which seeks a referendum on whether voters favor guarantees for liberties such as freedom of expression and the right to own a business.***

Fidel Castro - Cuba

Hugo Chavez - Venezuela

1 posted on 10/30/2002 12:09:44 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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Chavez: Disarm Venezuelans - Opposition gathers 900,000 signatures - OAS wants talks *** "Early elections would amount to a coup," Chavez said Sunday during this weekly radio and television show. "I hope Gaviria's arrival will persuade representatives of the sectors promoting a coup, fascism, desperation ... to sit at the negotiating table." However, the president said he was ready to discuss three issues that Gaviria has proposed as starting points for negotiations: a disarming of the population; reform of a corruption-riddled electoral system; and an independent investigation into 19 shooting deaths during an April 11 opposition march that helped trigger the coup.

Those issues aren't likely to draw the opposition to the negotiating table, said Luis Vicente Leon, director of local polling firm Datanalisis. For the opposition "all of that is nothing. They aren't going to feel like they've won anything unless the discussion is the referendum or elections," he said. Gaviria condemned the call to rebellion by 14 military officers last week. Other officers and thousands of civilians later joined their movement. Gaviria doesn't plan to meet with the dissident officers. That stance drew criticism from opposition politicians, labor leaders and businessmen who have endorsed the military protest, citing a constitutional clause that gives citizens the right to disobey a government they consider undemocratic.

Manifestations of Venezuela's political tensions were everywhere Sunday. Dozens of Chavez sympathizers staged a noisy march through downtown Caracas in support of their beleaguered leader - and to celebrate leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's lead in the Brazilian presidential elections Sunday. Chavez opponents banged pots and pans out their windows as the Chavistas passed by. Pot-banging also erupted Saturday night in several Caracas neighborhood after the government ordered local television and radio stations to rebroadcast statements by three military commandos condemning the military protest. The broadcast interrupted the World Series. ***

2 posted on 10/30/2002 12:14:31 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife



A resource for conservatives who want a Republican majority in the Senate

3 posted on 10/30/2002 4:30:05 AM PST by ffrancone
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To: *Latin_America_List
4 posted on 10/30/2002 6:54:34 AM PST by Free the USA
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January 23, 2003 - Vote on Chavez rule called off - "The government is blocking all democratic avenues"*** Chavez opponents want him to go now The Supreme Court in Venezuela has suspended an opposition-backed referendum due next month on whether the country's embattled President, Hugo Chavez, should resign. The electoral authorities had set the vote for 2 February after the opposition collected more than two million signatures demanding a referendum on the president's rule. The decision seems set to inflame tensions between Mr Chavez and his opponents - now in their eighth week of a strike that has crippled oil output in the world's fifth biggest exporter. Amid increasing capital flight and a slide in the currency, the government announced on Wednesday that Venezuela's currency markets would be closed for five days.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court ordered the National Electoral Council to suspend the referendum and refrain from organising any other elections. However, the electoral authorities insisted the effect of the court's ruling was to "freeze" but not cancel the referendum. ***

5 posted on 01/25/2003 2:54:53 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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