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I didn't see any topics on this, and am very curious what people on this forum think about it...especially the left-leaning ones...

Chavez Foes Say Will Step Up Venezuela Vote Fight
Wed Mar 3, 2004 03:30 PM ET

By Pascal Fletcher
CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) - Venezuela's opposition said on Wednesday it would intensify anti-government protests that have shaken the oil-rich nation to increase pressure on President Hugo Chavez to submit to a recall vote.

But the government said its opponents were failing in efforts to destabilize the country and oust Chavez.

The capital, Caracas, and other cities were generally quiet on Wednesday after five days of intense but scattered clashes between opposition protesters and troops in which at least six people were shot to death and dozens injured.

"Things are getting back to normal. It shows that this attempted insurrection has failed," Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel said.

Opposition leaders said they planned larger street protests, starting on Thursday, to press electoral authorities to reconsider a ruling on Tuesday ordering the reconfirmation of more than 1 million disputed pro-referendum signatures.

Foes who accuse the left-wing Chavez of ruling like a dictator say he is manipulating electoral officials to block their bid for a referendum against him. He says the referendum petition is riddled with fraud.

"Our protest, which has been an explosion of indignation so far, is going to be better organized," said Jesus Torrealba of the Democratic Coordinator opposition coalition.

Venezuela's National Electoral Council said on Tuesday it had only validated 1.8 million pro-referendum signatures, short of the 2.4 million needed to trigger a vote this year. The opposition insists it handed in 3.4 million signatures.

International observers are trying to broker a compromise over the signature reconfirmations. Torrealba said the opposition was participating in the dialogue.

The violence has shut some businesses and schools but has not hit the strategic oil industry in Venezuela, the world's fifth-largest crude exporter and a top U.S. supplier.

Daily scenes of protesters setting up burning barricades have raised fears the country risks a repeat of the political mayhem that briefly topped Chavez in a 2002 coup and disrupted oil exports more than a year ago.  

Most of the recent deaths occurred in confused gunfights, often at night. The worst flash points are wealthy and middle-class neighborhoods, where anti-Chavez feeling is strongest.

The government, which says troops have responded to attacks by opposition gunmen, has vowed to use the military to crack down against what it calls "terrorist pockets."

It says the opposition is trying to fan the riots to overthrow Chavez, in the same way Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was forced from power.

Chavez, a maverick populist who still commands strong support among some of Venezuela's poor, says wealthy business elites backed by the U.S. government are trying to topple him.

Washington, which has sharply criticized Chavez for befriending Cuba's communist president, Fidel Castro, dismisses the accusations as anti-U.S. bluster.

A U.S. senator said in Washington on Wednesday there was concern Chavez was trying to block the constitutional right of Venezuelans to seek a recall vote.

"I think that is unfortunate, (that) it is dangerous and it has to be dealt with," said Sen. Norm Coleman, a Minnesota Republican who heads the Western Hemisphere subcommittee of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (Additional reporting by Pablo Bachelet in Washington).

Reuters 2004. All Rights Reserved.

Personally, this is an example of outright undemocratic fraud and intimidation, but I notice that there isn't nearly the criticism of this coming from the left that there is over Aristide. Maybe it's the same situation as with Fidel Castro: scream about how the United States is responsible for everything that goes wrong and throw some pennies at the poor, and watch the lefty classes, ESPECIALLY the European lefties, fall over themselves in defense of you...bah!

I don't like Chavez

The CIA should've assassinated Chavez years ago.  When oh when will we have a proper CIA again?

Well, Latin American politics...I guess they're all crooks, or at least that's very likely... :(

Quote from: Gustaf on March 04, 2004, 11:48:23 AM

Well, Latin American politics...I guess they're all crooks, or at least that's very likely... :(

They're all a bit dangerous, but give me a Pinochet over a Chavez any day.


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