Monday, August 16, 2004

At least one coup fails 

Chavez wins going away. It's not even close:

Venezuela's left-wing President Hugo Chavez easily won a referendum on his rule and on Monday offered to open a dialogue with opponents while also vowing to intensify the reforms at the heart of the nation's political conflict.

A triumphant Chavez, who survived a coup two years ago and a grueling oil industry strike a year later, urged his opponents to accept his offer of talks rather than turn to violence.

"We've initiated a new phase to deepen this project ... The people must know that now more than ever we will pay the social debt," said Chavez, whose reforms have diverted oil wealth to housing, medicine and education for the poor.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who led an observers' mission, said their verification matched results from the National Electoral Council, which gave Chavez 58 percent of the vote in Sunday's recall vote. Officials said more than 8.5 million of the 14 million registered voters participated.

Chavez' victory was a blistering defeat for the opposition, a coalition of political parties, labor unions and civilian groups that fought for more than a year to secure a vote against a leader they accuse of authoritarian rule.

Oil markets worried a Chavez defeat could trigger unrest in the military and the state oil firm PDVSA, sectors he has purged to ensure key posts are in the hands of loyalists. But Venezuelan oil industry officials said operations were running normally after the vote.
(via Reuters)

Bush must be breathing a sigh of relief, right? Oil prices aren't going to get any worse than they are....

Wonder if we can get Carter to do some poll-watching in Florida this year?

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