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Chavez wins the right to keep on going in Venezuela

Hugo Chavez just keeps on going. He is the most important face of the anti-American resentment in South America, and has inspired many people to react against American policies. He allies with Iran and Cuba, both states that are an anathema to the US. Inside Venezuela, he is a strong figure, who inspires strong feelings both for and against. Ever since becoming President, Chaves has got strong support from the poor and the downtrodden (enough support that he gets re-elected easily, and has been able to push for the changes he wants). At the same time, because of him being a polarizing figure, he has been actively opposed by the richer and more affluent section of society who cannot stand his policies.
It is not that Chavez is a do-gooder who is opposed by richer sections because he is a true democrat; Chavez is for all practical purposes a strongman who will push for getting his policies in place, and will take actions when he deems them sufficient. However, term limits for the Presidential post were an important impediment for him being able to continue with his policies, and hence the push by him to change the policy so that he could continue to keep on standing for the post of President. He was rebuffed by the voters the last time he tried, but this time, he has managed enough support to get the change passed:

Without a constitutional change he would have had to stand down when his term expires in 2013; instead he had secured the right to stand again for office in the next elections due in 2012, and elections beyond. “I am ready!” He told them. “With today’s victory we start the third historical cycle of the Bolivarian revolution, from 2009 to 2019.” This has been a crucial victory for Venezuela’s president. He had a lot riding on the outcome, both personally and politically.
While Venezuelans have shown with this vote that President Chavez still has more than enough support to win another presidential election, a lot can happen in four years and the road to the 2012 election may well be rocky.

A lot of what Chavez did earlier was due to the high price of oil for the past many years, providing him revenues that enabled him to dole out huge sums of money to his supporters (while kicking out foreign oil companies). However, with oil prices down to the $40 level from the $140 level of just some time back, it is difficult for Chavez to provide the same amount of largesse. It would be interesting to watch his policies for the next several years to see what he can achieve.

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