Hugo Chavez wins another six-year term

2012-10-08 07:19

Caracas - Venezuela's Hugo Chavez shrugged off cancer and a unified opposition on Sunday to triumph yet again at the ballot box and win another six-year mandate to pursue his oil-funded socialist revolution.

His rival, 40-year-old Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles, was gracious in defeat, saying, "I accept and respect the decision of the people," but it was a bitter pill for the opposition and many in the divided country to swallow.

Fireworks erupted across Caracas as "Chavistas" celebrated in front of the presidential palace after near-complete official results showed Chavez winning 54.42% of votes compared to 44.97% for Capriles.

"Thank you my dear people!!! Viva Venezuela!!!" Chavez, in power for almost 14 years, wrote on Twitter after the National Electoral Council announced the score. "Thank you God! Thank you to all of you!"

Massive turnout

The result after a massive 80.94% turnout showed a far tougher contest than Chavez has endured so far to his 14-year tenure. He won the 2006 election with 62% of the vote and by a margin of 25 points.

With 90% of ballots counted, Chavez won 7 444 082 votes, compared to 6 151 554 for Capriles - highlighting the deep divisions in the oil-rich South American nation.

Chavez had held a 10-point lead in the latest opinion poll before Sunday's vote, but other surveys had indicated a statistical dead heat.

Hundreds of Chavez supporters assembled before the announcement in front of the Miraflores presidential palace, setting off firecrackers, honking horns and holding signs as his campaign song blared.

Election experts said the electronic voting system was reliable, but suspicions ran high that whoever lost would not concede defeat.

"To know how to win, you have to know how to lose," Capriles said at this campaign headquarters, putting those fears to rest. "For me, what the people say is sacred."

"I am a democrat, through and through," the 40-year-old former state governor said, wearing a jacket in Venezuela's colours.

The fate of Chavez, a fierce US critic and the leading voice of Latin America's left, was closely watched by communist ally Cuba, which heavily depends on Venezuela's oil, and other regional partners.

"Viva Venezuela, viva the great fatherland, viva the Bolivarian Revolution!" leftist Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa tweeted. Congratulations came from Argentine President Cristina Kirchner too.


But in Washington, the head of the House foreign relations committee, Republican lawmaker Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, accused Chavez of manipulating the result.

"Chavez has denied access to international election monitors, employed last minute ballot changes, controlled the judicial system, harassed independent journalists, and consolidated his power to manipulate the vote in his favour," she alleged.

"Chavez must not be allowed to continue to export his hate and despotism abroad like his fellow dictators in Iran and Cuba through the oppression of the press and violation of human rights," said Ros-Lehtinen.

With the polarised nation bracing for the results amid an atmosphere of widespread distrust, Chavez and his rival had both appealed for calm as some booths remained open well after the scheduled closing hour.

Capriles had surged in opinion polls during the campaign as he attracted huge rallies with promises to curb runaway crime and unite the polarised South American country.

Weakened by a bout with cancer, the 58-year-old Chavez stepped up campaigning in the last week of the race, warning that Capriles would undo his popular social "missions" for the poor.

Sitting on the world's biggest proven crude oil deposits, Chavez has used petro-dollars to build a network of regional allies and secure the loyalty of poor Venezuelans dependent on the generosity of his social programmes.

Voters began standing in line early after Chavez supporters played military-style bugles before dawn to roust loyalists of the president.

As he arrived to vote in the 23 de Enero slum, one of his Caracas bastions, Chavez was greeted by an adoring crowd with chants of "ooh, ahh, Chavez won't go!"

The opposition had accused Chavez of misusing public funds for his campaign and dominating the airwaves while forcing government workers to attend rallies through intimidation.

Capriles has hammered Chavez over the country's regular power outages, food shortages and runaway murder rate, which has risen to 50 homicides per 100 000 inhabitants.

  • squeegee.pilot - 2012-10-08 07:31

    Arggg! Another 6 years of insane rants... If he lasts that long. This just proves that our electorate is not the only gullible one.

      aniken.vader.31 - 2012-10-08 10:03

      The USA always has something to say regarding human rights, yet look at the likes of Asange and their attitude towards someone who exposed them through those revealed cables. I also do not agree with the likes of Chavez either, yet it begs the question - would the USA even bother if oil was not of a significant importance? NOT

      claudia.meads - 2012-10-08 11:00

      "...hate and despotism abroad like his fellow dictators in Iran and Cuba through the oppression of the press and violation of human rights..." Abusing the country's natural resources to " a network of regional allies and secure the loyalty of poor Venezuelans dependent on the generosity of his social programmes..." Yet the same country is a "...polarized nation..." and has "...regular power outages, food shortages and runaway murder rate..." Does it not sound chillingly similar to a certain country at the southern tip of Africa..?

  • AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-08 07:48

    Another 6 years wasted, in the most corrupt and violent South American country. This clown has not improved the lives of ordinary people, unless one calls this progress: """poor Venezuelans "dependent" on the generosity of his social programmes""

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-09 06:19

      Vox, Maybe so, but , you forgot to mention; That those 46 million, still have a higher standard of living than most in this world !!!!

  • danny.levin.351 - 2012-10-08 07:51

    This is typical of South American (an other) didctatorships masquerading as democracies. the dictators keep getting "re-elected" with enough "votes" to keep them in absolute power.

  • Adeeb Saban - 2012-10-08 07:53

    Agreed, he's not a great leader but at least he's not a lackey of the west, particularly the US

  • tsatsi.golden - 2012-10-08 08:14

    US stop that u want to start another war.

  • derek.bredenkamp.3 - 2012-10-08 08:32

    Viva Chavez viva!!! Wish we had a leader of his courage.

  • issa.kabudula - 2012-10-08 08:47

    Congratulations Hugo Chavez for another 6 years in office and third term - this is more than enough years. But as far as the campaign was peaceful and the voting was ok - the majority have expressed their need of having Chavez as their on going leader why not accepting the decision of the people viva Chavez viva!!!!! For my brother from another mother Henrique Capriles just for saying the following "I accept and respect the decision of the people," this is great and you are the top politician in the whole US. Many opposition parties after getting the funding from America - they turn to be very rude by not accepting the defeat, this is democracy and people must sit down and understand it. As ordinary people we are tired of wars mace out of so called democracy - in democracy many are dying than in one party system so to say, and this is the truth and reality of our days today. We have seen this in Palestine - where the west said no to democratically elected government in the name of terrorism yet the people appointed them to be the leaders - the question remains unanswered "What is Democracy"

  • joseph.motloung.3 - 2012-10-08 10:09

    Congrats president Chavez. This demonstrates the faith that the people of Venezuela have in you. The thing that pains the yankee imperialists particularly the US is that you stand firmly opposed to their hegemonic tendencies. Its clear that the people of Venezuela remember clearly the crimes committed my the washington mobsters in Latin America

  • musawakhe.ngubane - 2012-10-08 12:39

    Bravo comrade Hugo Chaves! You are a true revolutionarist. Down with imperialists, down! The people of Venezuela have spoken.

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