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Posted: 12/2/2007 8:35:03 PM EDT
Chavez loses constitutional vote 5 minutes ago



President Hugo Chavez suffered a stinging defeat in a vote on constitutional changes that would have let him run for re-election indefinitely, the chief of National Electoral Council said Monday.

Voters defeated the sweeping measures by a vote of 51 percent to 49 percent, Tibisay Lucena said.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A vote on sweeping constitutional reforms that could let Hugo Chavez hold the presidency for life remained unresolved early Monday, with the government saying it was too close to call and the opposition pressing for results.

Tensions grew as hours passed after the official close of voting with no announcement of results. The referendum on constitutional changes was a critical test for a leader bent on turning this major U.S. oil provider into a socialist state.

An emboldened opposition and clashes during student-led protests in recent weeks prompted fears of bitter conflict if either side disputed the results.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles said early Monday that "the time has come to announce the results to the country." Capriles earlier had noted that 97 percent of polling stations are automated.

Another opposition spokesman Leopoldo Lopez, mayor of the Caracas district of Chacao, claimed earlier that results seen by election monitors "indicate the 'no' vote is going to win."

Caravans of Chavez's supporters had taken to the streets after polls closed, honking horns and blaring celebratory music in anticipation of victory. But their enthusiasm appeared to fade as the hours wore on.

"The result of the referendum is close," Vice President Jorge Rodriguez said from Chavez's campaign headquarters. "We will respect the result, whatever it is — even if it's by one single vote."

Chavez's opponents fear a win by the president could mean a plunge toward dictatorship. Supporters have faith that Chavez would use the reforms to deepen grass-roots democracy and more equitably spread Venezuela's oil wealth.

The changes would help transform the major U.S. oil provider into a socialist state. They would create new forms of communal property, let Chavez handpick local leaders under a redrawn political map, permit civil liberties to be suspended under extended states of emergency and allow Chavez to seek re-election indefinitely. Otherwise, he cannot run again in 2012.

Chavez warned opponents ahead of the vote he would not tolerate attempts to incite violence, and threatened to cut off oil exports to the U.S. if Washington interferes. Chavez calls those who resist his socialist agenda pawns of President Bush.

"He's going to be an elected dictator," 77-year-old voter Ruben Rozenberg said of Chavez. The retired blue jeans maker, who emigrated from Cuba in 1961, said that although Chavez's revolution is peaceful compared to that of Fidel Castro, "we've been violated all around" by the Venezuelan leader's progressive consolidation of power.

Across town, in a pro-Chavez slum, 40-year-old Jorge Blanco said Chavez "is giving power to the people" through the reforms.

"He opened that little door and now we're free." Of the wealthy elite, Blanco said: "What they fear is losing power."

The government touted pre-election polls showing Chavez with an advantage, while surveys cited by the opposition indicated strong resistance — unfamiliar territory for a leader who easily won re-election last year with 63 percent of the vote.

Casting his ballot, Chavez called the electronic voting system "one of the most modern in the world, one of the most transparent in the world."

His opponents have questioned the National Electoral Council's impartiality, however, especially after Chavez named Rodriguez, its former chief, his vice president in January.

About 100 electoral observers from 39 countries in Latin America, Europe and the United States were on hand, the electoral council said. Absent were the Organization of American States and the European Union, which have monitored past votes.

All was reported calm during voting but 45 people were detained, most for committing ballot-related crimes like "destroying electoral materials," said Gen. Jesus Gonzalez, chief of a military command overseeing security.

At a polling station in one politically divided Caracas neighborhood, Chavez supporters shouted "Get out of here!" to opposition backers who stood nearby aiming to monitor the vote count. A few dozen Chavistas rode by on motorcycles with bandanas and hats covering their faces, some throwing firecrackers.

Opponents — including Roman Catholic leaders, press freedom groups, human rights groups and prominent business leaders — fear the reforms would grant Chavez unchecked power and threaten basic rights.

Cecilia Goldberger, a 56-year-old voting in affluent eastern Caracas, said Venezuelans were being hoodwinked and do not really understand how Chavez's power grab will affect them.

She resented pre-dawn, get-out-the-vote tactics by Chavistas, including fireworks and reveille blaring from speakers mounted on cruising trucks.

"I refuse to be treated like cattle and I refuse to be part of a communist regime," the Israeli-born Goldberger said, adding that she and her businessman husband hope to leave the country.

Chavez sought to capitalize on his personal popularity ahead of the vote.

He is seen by many as a champion of the poor who has redistributed more oil wealth than any other leader in memory. Chavez, 53, says he will stay in power only as long as Venezuelans keep re-electing him — but has added that might be until 2050, when he would be 95 years old. The reforms would also grant Chavez control over the Central Bank and extend presidential terms from six to seven years.

Many Chavez supporters say he needs more time in office to consolidate his unique brand of "21st century socialism," and praise other proposed changes such as shortening the workday from eight hours to six, creating a social security fund for millions of informal laborers and promoting communal councils where residents decide how to spend government funds.

Tensions have surged in recent weeks as university students led protests and occasionally clashed with police and Chavista groups.

Some 140,000 soldiers and reservists were posted for the vote, the Defense Ministry said.

Electoral council chief Tibisay Lucena called the vote "the calmest we've had in the last 10 years."

___

Associated Press writers Frank Bajak, Edison Lopez, Fabiola Sanchez, Jorge Rueda, Christopher Toothaker and Sandra Sierra contributed to this report.



news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071203/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/venezuela_constitution
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:38:39 PM EDT
Damn thats close. Kind of scary to think that many there are ok with it.
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:38:48 PM EDT
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:40:35 PM EDT
In a few months this will be cited as the spark that started a civil war.
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:41:22 PM EDT
Wow.

I can honestly say I didn't see that coming!
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:41:32 PM EDT
Hopefully the next guy won't be such a douche.
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:42:22 PM EDT
Good.
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:42:23 PM EDT
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:44:09 PM EDT
Bush's fault.

-Gator
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:44:09 PM EDT
I guess the carbon footprint was too large for algore to fly down there and teach him how to have a recount.
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:44:18 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Mattl:
In a few months this will be cited as the spark that started a civil war.

Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:45:42 PM EDT
Ruh roh!
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:45:48 PM EDT
Chavez is a dictator, pure and simple. This "election" will matter little to him in the long run.
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:47:40 PM EDT
This should get interesting.
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:47:42 PM EDT

Originally Posted By fishngrits:
Chavez is a dictator, pure and simple. This "election" will matter little to him in the long run.


Yep, how long before he appoints himself dictator for life backed by the military?
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:48:11 PM EDT
I foresee "Emergency Powers" being enacted in the very near future.
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:48:40 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Mattl:
In a few months this will be cited as the spark that started a civil war.


Yep.
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:49:14 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Soylent:
I foresee "Emergency Powers" being enacted in the very near future.


You and I must be psychic.
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:51:16 PM EDT
CIA Interference, this will be the excuse!
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:51:55 PM EDT
I see people being murdered that just happened to vote against his will.
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:52:52 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Powelligator:
Bush's fault.


Chavez WILL blame Bush for this, and get more dictatorial.
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:53:20 PM EDT
Better give it a day or two I think Jhimmi's going down to certify the vote........
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:55:00 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/2/2007 8:56:00 PM EDT by clement]
edit- nm.....ok....so he is essentially going to get kicked out sooner or later as it stands....
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:56:13 PM EDT
WOOT!

I'm drinking a special shot of vodka for you Chavez... you stinking commie puke!!! HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!

Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:57:29 PM EDT

Originally Posted By foxherb53:
Better give it a day or two I think Jhimmi's going down to certify the vote........


If that assfuck claims the "evil Bush-lead U.S." interfered in the election..... Nevermind. After the story about the teacher that posted online advocating violence (albeit falsely) and got arrested, I'll just stop right here.
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:57:47 PM EDT
anyone here up for taking a "vacation" to venezuela?

lots of oil there and i'm sure it wouldn't be too hard to take over.

anyone got SteyrAUG's phone number?
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:58:40 PM EDT
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:58:51 PM EDT

Originally Posted By raven:
Supporters have faith that Chavez would use the reforms to deepen grass-roots democracy and more equitably spread Venezuela's oil wealth.


I'm sure thats exactly what he would do.
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:59:07 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Mattl:

Originally Posted By Soylent:
I foresee "Emergency Powers" being enacted in the very near future.


You and I must be psychic.


That would make 3 of us then. My psychic powers also tell me that Chavel will blame the USA
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 8:59:42 PM EDT

Originally Posted By cookhj:
anyone here up for taking a "vacation" to venezuela?

lots of oil there and i'm sure it wouldn't be too hard to take over.

anyone got SteyrAUG's phone number?



I understand Venezuela to be awash in small arms, ground holding there might be trickier than you think.
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 9:00:55 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/2/2007 9:01:48 PM EDT by raven]

Originally Posted By Skibane:
Wow.

I can honestly say I didn't see that coming!


Me too. I detect the foul stench of KKKarl Rove in this!
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 9:01:28 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Lert:

Originally Posted By Mattl:

Originally Posted By Soylent:
I foresee "Emergency Powers" being enacted in the very near future.


You and I must be psychic.


That would make 3 of us then. My psychic powers also tell me that Chavel will blame the USA



It is impressive that Venezuelans voted against in those numbers. You have to know Chavez rigged the vote, and he still lost.
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 9:03:30 PM EDT
Good
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 9:10:53 PM EDT
Thats great news
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 9:11:59 PM EDT
OST
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 9:12:33 PM EDT
ha ha.
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 9:12:42 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Mattl:

Originally Posted By Lert:

Originally Posted By Mattl:

Originally Posted By Soylent:
I foresee "Emergency Powers" being enacted in the very near future.


You and I must be psychic.


That would make 3 of us then. My psychic powers also tell me that Chavel will blame the USA



It is impressive that Venezuelans voted against in those numbers. You have to know Chavez rigged the vote, and he still lost.

+1
I'm sure this bafoon will do something stupid to stay in power.
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 9:13:36 PM EDT
CIA at work!! Finally they did something that amounted to something!!!
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 9:25:43 PM EDT
If they just had a few American Democrats, they could have rigged the polls better.


- BG
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 9:34:45 PM EDT

Originally Posted By readytorock556:
CIA at work!! Finally they did something that amounted to something!!!


The CIA jackals already did their work in 2002, and they failed.

Chavez will step down peacefully when his term is up. If he wanted to be a dictator, he could have done so when his popularity was surging after the failed American orchestrated coup.

America is not well liked in South America for a reason... We've overthrown many a share of legitimately elected democratic leaders who actually did not want communism, but didn't want to become just another banana republic. Arbenz in Guatemala (thanks United Fruit!) Torijos in Panama, and Roldos in Ecuador.

Chavez is an ass, but he is liked because of our past involvement in that continent.
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 9:41:09 PM EDT
Kind of reminds me Brazil's gun ban referendum several years ago - Everyone assumed it was in the bag, and yet it was soundly defeated.
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 9:53:12 PM EDT
I get the feeling Chavez, his inner circle and the army are preparing for a retaliatory offensive against the good voters of Venezuela
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 9:58:48 PM EDT
Great news, now to see if it actually means anything
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 10:00:08 PM EDT

Originally Posted By fishngrits:
Chavez is a dictator, pure and simple. This "election" will matter little to him in the long run.


He was hoping to be legitimized. He will still create a way to be "President for life".
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 10:01:27 PM EDT
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 10:02:00 PM EDT

CHAVEZ LOSES!

Link Posted: 12/2/2007 10:06:53 PM EDT

Originally Posted By KAINAM-13:

Originally Posted By fishngrits:
Chavez is a dictator, pure and simple. This "election" will matter little to him in the long run.


Yep, how long before he appoints himself dictator for life backed by the military?


There has allready been one attempted coup...

Somehow I think his 'backing' would come from elsewhere...
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 11:24:04 PM EDT

Originally Posted By WildBoar:
Damn thats close. Kind of scary to think that many there are ok with it.


I doubt it was that close. It was more of "it was so unpopular that he couldn't win even by widespread cheating".
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 11:38:14 PM EDT

Originally Posted By WildBoar:
Damn thats close. Kind of scary to think that many there are ok with it.



Wait until the recount. In 2004 our governor race was recounted until the democrats were declared the winners.
Link Posted: 12/2/2007 11:51:45 PM EDT
Good news, if it doesn't change.
Link Posted: 12/3/2007 12:00:09 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Stumps:

Originally Posted By WildBoar:
Damn thats close. Kind of scary to think that many there are ok with it.



Wait until the recount. In 2004 our governor race was recounted until the democrats were declared the winners.


Yep. Pretty shady shit.


Chavez is a homo.
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