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Saturday, September 23, 2023

Venezuelans celebrate as Hugo Chavez wins a landslide election

CSMS Magazine Staff Writers

 Thousands took to the streets of Caracas to celebrate Sunday as results from Venezuela’s presidential election confirm a sweeping victory for Hugo Chavez. Challenger Manuel Rosales conceded defeat but vowed to remain in opposition. During the campaign, Rosales accused Chavez of edging Venezuela toward authoritarian rule and warned the president could undertake even more radical policies if re-elected.    Minutes after the results were announced, Chavez appeared on the balcony of the presidential palace singing the national anthem. He pledged to deepen his effort to transform Venezuela into a socialist society.     “Long live the socialist revolution! Destiny has been written,” Chavez shouted to thousands of flag-waving supporters wearing red shirts and braving a pouring rain.”That new era has begun,” he said, raising a hand in the air. “We have shown that Venezuela is red!… No one should fear socialism… Socialism is human. Socialism is love,” Chavez said. “Down with imperialism! We need a new world!”     Chavez also has used Venezuela’s oil wealth to his political advantage. He has channeled oil profits toward multibillion-dollar programs for the poor including subsidized food, free university education and cash benefits for single mothers. He has also helped allies from Cuba to Bolivia with oil and petrodollars. He now promises to solidify his social program.     With 78 percent of voting stations reporting, Chavez had 61 percent to 38 percent for challenger Rosales, said Tibisay Lucena, head of the country’s elections council. Chavez had nearly 6 million votes versus 3.7 million for Rosales, according to the partial tally.According to The Associated Press, turnout among the 15.9 million eligible voters was 62 percent, according to an official bulletin of results, making Chavez’s lead insurmountable.    “We will continue in this struggle,” Rosales told cheering supporters as he conceded defeat. Some supporters at his campaign headquarters wept, while others were clearly angry.     Rosales, a cattle rancher and governor of western Zulia state who stepped down temporarily to run against Chavez, focused his campaign on issues such as rampant crime and corruption, widely seen as Chavez’s main vulnerabilities.     A top Rosales adviser, Teodoro Petkoff, said the voting was carried out in a “satisfactory manner.” He said some irregularities had occurred but most were resolved. Another member of the Rosales camp had accused pro-Chavez soldiers of reopening closed polling stations and busing voters to them.    Even before polls closed, Chavez supporters celebrated in the streets, setting off fireworks and cruising Caracas honking horns and shouting “Chavez isn’t going anywhere!”    Earlier, Chavez loyalists jarred voters awake hours before dawn in Caracas with recordings of reveille blaring from truck-mounted loudspeakers.    “We’re here to support our president, who has helped us so much,” said Jose Domingo Izaguirre, a factory worker who waited hours to vote. His family recently moved into new government housing.

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