Dead Men Left

Monday, August 16, 2004

"Chavez claims victory"

From the Grauniad, with no further comment:

Hugo Chávez, the leftwing president of Venezuela, today claimed victory in a national referendum on his rule.

The Venezuelan electoral commission said that, with 94% of ballots counted, Mr Chávez had 58% of the vote. His opponents have 42%.

In a speech to thousands of cheering supporters, the president said it was "impossible" that his victory could be reversed.

The recall vote - which Mr Chávez had to win to stay in power - was expected to be close. A much higher turnout than had been predicted raised fears among the president's campaign team that opposition support had increased.


The presidential recall vote, the first in Venezuela's history, was intended to end two years of sometimes violent protest against Mr Chávez's rule.

He was briefly ousted in a 2002 coup, and last year had to battle against a two-month general strike and political riots.

The protests, however, may not end. Haydee Deutsch, an opposition leader, alleged that fraud had been committed, and said the opposition was in "no doubt that we won by an overwhelming majority".