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The victory of Venezuela's Pres. Chavez

By Humberto Marquez | Last updated: Dec 19, 2006 - 2:04:00 PM

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Supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez watched him speak via a huge screen at a campaign rally in Caracas, Venezuela, Nov. 26, in a lead-up to the presidential elections held Dec. 3. Photo: AP/World Wide Photos
'A new era is beginning for our Bolivarian national development project, and the fundamental strategic idea is the expansion of the revolution, of revolutionary democracy'
-Hugo Chavez
President of Venezuela

CARACAS (IPS/GIN) - Immediately after his landslide victory Dec. 3, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced the start of a new socialist era for the country.

With 78 percent of the voting stations counted, Pres. Chavez had 61 percent of the vote versus 38 percent for opposition candidate Manuel Rosales.

“I cannot lie,” Mr. Rosales said. “We recognize that, although the margin is narrower than that announced by the National Electoral Court, they defeated us today, but we will continue the struggle in the streets, defending freedom and democracy.”

As soon as the preliminary results were announced, Pres. Chavez came out on the balcony of the presidential palace and told thousands of euphoric supporters braving the rain that, “this is the starting point on Venezuela’s road to socialism.”

“A new era is beginning for our Bolivarian national development project, and the fundamental strategic idea is the expansion of the revolution, of revolutionary democracy,” he said.

He repeatedly invoked Jesus Christ and Latin America’s independence heroes, especially Simon Bolivar, when urging people “not to be afraid of socialism, because our kind is basically love, humanity, solidarity, Indigenous, Christian and Bolivarian: Let’s build it.”

“Those who voted for me, more than 60 percent of Venezuelans, did so for the Bolivarian socialist project, did so for all of you. It is the people who are in charge, and I recognize that, and I also recognize those who voted for another option,” said Pres. Chavez.

Referring to the opposition, the president said, “I hope they show comprehension that the Bolivarian victory was overwhelming and unassailable, and that they join in the construction of a new Venezuela.”

In the August 2004 recall referendum organized by the opposition, the president received the support of 59 percent of voters. But at the time, the opposition cried fraud and refused to recognize the results, although they failed to prove any wrongdoing and international observers gave the referendum vote a clean bill of health.

A year ago, the main opposition parties boycotted the parliamentary elections, once again voicing unproven allegations of a lack of transparency. As a result, the governing party and its allies hold all 167 seats in the legislature.

During the campaign, in which he had the backing of some 40 opposition parties and groups, Mr. Rosales said he would accept the outcome announced by the elections were “clean and transparent.”

On the day of the election, there were a few delays in the installation of voting stations and isolated incidents when the stations were closed, but the process overall was smooth and free of problems, according to observers from the European Union, the Organization of American States and the local watchdog group Ojo Electoral.

Voter turnout was high, with Venezuelans standing in long lines, many arriving hours before the voting stations opened. According to a preliminary estimate, at least 12 million of the 16 million registered voters came out, two million more than in the 2004 referendum.

Hugo Chavez proposes African, Latin America, Carribean Alliance (FCN, 06-11-2006)

Chavez: US wants me assassinated (Al Jazeera, 02-21-2005)

Masses gather in Venezuela's capital for Pro-Chavez Rally (Venez Analysis, 08-09-2004)

Venezuelan president says U.S. played key role in ’02 coup attempt (FCN, 05-05-2004)

Venezuelan president stands tall for the Black and Brown (FCN, 01-29-2003)

Latin America, Looking Backward (, 05-15-2001)