Friday, January 16, 2009

Vote on Presidential Re-election Reform to be Held Nest Month

Yesterday, amidst opposition student protests in the capital and university centers throughout Venezuela, the National Assembly passed the resolution necessary to amend the constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela concerning the re-election of public officials. With only 6 votes against (all by representatives of the center-left party PODEMOS, which left the Bolivarian bloc in late 2007), the election will be held in February, with campaigning for or against the measure mandated to end on the 13th.

With the amendment the term limits for all elected officials -- from the office of the president to town mayor -- would be lifted. Opposition student groups, fresh from a weekend meeting of Venezuelan opposition officials and representatives of the US government in Puerto Rico, attempted to block Caracas's main thoroughfare but were dispersed with water cannons and tear gas.

While I am still rather confident that Chávez will win this vote handily, I should also point out that the last time the opposition held the political territory it does today was in 2002. In 2002, folks should remember, the Venezuelan opposition, major media outlets, and chamber of commerce launched a failed coup and orchestrated a devastating financial shut down. With the emergence and seeming consolidation of violent shock troops in the country's major universities, anything is once again possible.

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