Remember...the "Bolivarian Revolution" that Chavez publicly speaks of refers to Simon Bolivar and Chavez's "Napolean-esque vision" in which the South American countries are united under him in one large superpower. This was one of my election day predictions. http://visionsfromthehorizon.blogspot.com/2008/11/and-wait-is-on.html
February 17, 2009
Emboldened Hugo Chávez to speed up his Bolivarian Revolution
An emboldened Hugo Chávez vowed to speed up “the construction of true socialism” in Venezuela after winning the right to stand for reelection indefinitely – a measure that opponents say puts the country on the path to dictatorship.
The President told ecstatic supporters that his decisive victory in a referendum on removing term limits had smashed the barriers to a permanent socialist revolution in Venezuela, one of the world’s largest oil producers.
To chants of “Chávez will not go” from a crowd gathered outside Miraflores Palace in Caracas, the President vowed to stand in the next elections in 2013 and beyond. “Unless God decides otherwise, unless the people decide otherwise, this soldier is already a candidate,” Mr Chávez declared.
The President has said that he needs to stay in power until at least 2019 to complete his Bolivarian Revolution, a process whereby the State has taken control of the country’s vast oil wealth, expropriated private land-holdings and businesses and instituted a programme of social reforms. First elected in 1998, he has on occasions suggested that he might hold on to power until 2049, when he will be 95.
The prospect is relished among his most fervent supporters. “Chávez has changed Venezuela from the sky right down to the earth,” said MarÍa Moreira, 48, an administrative assistant voting in 23 de Enero, a poor Caracas barrio and Chavista stronghold.
“Now there are opportunities for all, from the richest to the most deprived. Before there were children who didn’t eat, now they have food, they have schools, they have hospitals. The people love him. We cannot go back.”
Triumphant supporters on motorcycles filled Plaza Altamira, the heart of Caracas’s most affluent neighbourhoods and the symbolic stronghold of the Opposition. Dressed in red, they tore around the square in victory loops, beeping horns and setting off fireworks until the early hours.
Analysts said that his triumph in Sunday’s vote would lend a new impetus to Mr Chávez’s socialist project. The victory of the “yes” campaign, by 54.4 to 45.6 per cent with a 70 per cent turnout, “returns a sense of strength and invulnerability to Chávez” after his difficulties in November’s municipal elections, said Luis Vicente León, of the Datanalisis polling company.
After a brief respite of a “week of love” proclaimed by the victorious President, sweeping reforms are expected as he seeks to capitalise on his renewed popularity. Before the vote he promised to nationalise some goldmining concessions now held by foreign companies, while ministers have hinted at more land expropriations for the purposes of food production to wean Venezuela off expensive imports.
“We are going to see Chávez taking advantage of this to do radical things very quickly,” said Mr León. He predicted that Mr Chávez would launch an assault on the private sector, saying: “I think they are going to try and control the food industry, the financial and insurance sectors.”
Opposition leaders went farther, warning that the charismatic populist, who already holds sway over the courts, the electoral council and the National Assembly, was now virtually unstoppable. Last night they claimed that Mr Chávez’s use of state resources to mobilise supporters, and the pressure on two million public employees to vote with the Government, had skewed the results.
Others blamed a weak campaign by a fractured opposition coalition. Oscar Reyes, a political scientist who advises the Opposition, said that it had to construct a detailed and creative platform to counter Mr Chávez. “For Venezuelans, simply saying, ‘Chávez go away’ is not enough.”
However, Mr Chávez faces worsening economic problems. Plunging oil prices have thrown the PDVSA state oil company into crisis, with 5,000 workers currently going unpaid, and could jeopardise the social projects that have helped to maintain his support among Venezuela’s poor.
“His strategy has been to bet on high oil prices and that’s not working anymore,” said José Guerra, an economist and former central bank director who is critical of the Government.
On George W. Bush at the UN “Yesterday the Devil came here. Right here [crosses himself] . . . Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the President of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the Devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world”
On Condoleezza Rice “Remember, little girl, I’m like the thorn tree that flowers on the plain. I waft my scent to passers-by and prick he who shakes me. Don’t mess with me, Condoleezza”
On Tony Blair “You are an imperialist pawn who attempts to curry favour with Danger Bush-Hitler, the No 1 mass murderer and assassin there is on the planet. Go straight to Hell, Mr Blair”
On Robert Mugabe “I give you a replica of liberator Simón BolÍvar’s sword . . . For you who, like BolÍvar, are and will always be a true freedom fighter [who] continues, alongside his people, to confront the pretensions of new imperialists”
On Bush, again “You are a donkey, Mr Danger. You are a donkey, Mr George W. Bush . . . A psychologically sick man, I know it”
Source: Times database