Chavez wins landslide in Venezuelan elections
August 20, 2004

Chavez wins landslide in Venezuelan elections

Venezuelans have placed their confidence in the leadership of President Hugo Chavez in a historic referendum held last Sunday.
And Vincentian Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has commented exclusively to SEARCHLIGHT that “the democratic processes vindicate the stance of President Chavez in seeking to develop a popular economy which is independent, and in the interest of the nation as a whole.”{{more}}
The people of Venezuela voted overwhelmingly to allow President Chavez’s term of office to continue until the end of his six-year term, gaining 58 percent of the votes cast.
The referendum was called under the terms of the right of recall which is enshrined in the constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and was put to the test by opposition forces which had sought to have President Chavez’s six year term of office cut short.
President Chavez had provoked the ire of the upper classes because of his populist policies that have been bringing benefits to the poor in the South American country. Additionally Chavez’s close relations with the Republic of Cuba and its President Fidel Castro has been a bone of contention for the right wing opposition which attempted civil disobedience. They had previously failed in a military coup and a national strike to unseat Chavez; both without grass root support against the democratically elected leader.
Meanwhile the Cuban government has hailed the process in Venezuela “a historic lesson of true democracy and national sovereignty.”
But not so Chavez’ opposition in Venezuela. Notwithstanding the verdict by noted international observers Caesar Gaviria, secretary general of the Organization of American States and former US President Jimmy Carter of the Carter Center who have declared the poll free and fair, Chavez’s opponents have called the process a “massive fraud.”
President Chavez has received the support of the Venezuelan people some eight times in five years, which underscores the legitimacy of the Venezuelan government.
But while President Jimmy Carter has accepted a limited audit of the voting machines used in the referendum although insisting that the process was free and fair members of the opposition Wednesday requested that the audit be stopped since they claimed that they had proof of fraud that the audit could not unearth.