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Referendum result: Venezuelan views

Venezuelans on Sunday voted by 54.8% to 45.1% to change the constitution to end term limits and allow elected officials, including President Hugo Chavez, to run for re-election indefinitely.

Mr Chavez has said he needs another 10 years to secure what he calls Venezuela's socialist revolution.

Here, four Venezuelans discuss whether the outcome of the referendum is good for their country.

ANA IRENE MENDEZ, 70, PROFESSOR, MARACAIBO

Ana Irene Mendez
I voted for the amendments and I am very pleased with the result.

It is misleading to think that the referendum was just about the indefinite re-election of the president. The indefinite re-election includes all elected officials.

I see no problem in re-electing someone who has done a good job. In any case, it is up to the people to vote for a candidate or send him back home at the end of a term.

So Chavez, or whoever becomes a president in the next elections, will have to make the improving of people's lives a priority.

The president, governors, mayors and various local and state officials have to work hard in order to be re-elected.

Venezuelans will vote for the person who is able to fulfil the promise of building a just society.

CARLOS HENRIQUE BELLO BOCCARDO, 21, ENGINEERING STUDENT, CARACAS

Carlos Henrique Bello
I am very disappointed with the result. I expected the majority of the Venezuelan people would understand the consequences of permitting a single person to stay in office indefinitely.

But it wasn't a complete loss. The outcome showed that the president's support is decreasing, while the opposition got for the first time more than five million votes.

A quick look at history suggests that no individual should be allowed to stay in power for long periods of time.

Whatever the outcome, I believe that the Venezuelan people mature politically with each election.

We need to learn from our mistakes and work harder than we've ever had to achieve democracy where freedom, equality and human rights prevail. This should be our goal, and not Chavez's Patria, Socialismo o Muerte (Country, Socialism or Death).

JESUS GUTIERREZ, 38, TEACHER, CARACAS

Jesus Gutierrez
What the outcome of this referendum reflects is that people are deeply divided in almost two halves, even though the government supporters got an evident majority.

I think it's a good idea to lift the limits on terms in office for elected officials. This is nothing new though - this would happen anyway because government and council funds are often spent on politicians' personal ambitions.

Everybody, including the rich, take advantage of the government's achievements: the lowest gasoline price in the world, various social programmes, cheap food in government - supported markets and free education from junior school up to university.

That's why Mr Chavez is very popular. He has shown to be a very clever politician and the opposition leaders have underestimated him.

The opposition have failed to establish a stronger connection with people in deprived neighbourhoods.

JACINTO SANDES RAMOS, 54, JOURNALIST, SAN JUAN DE LOS M0RROS

Jacinto Sandes Ramos
I voted for the changes in this referendum. I am very satisfied with the outcome. Like most Venezuelans, I fear a return of a government that would make our country dependent on foreign interests.

More than two third of the electorate participated in this referendum and the result speaks for itself.

The majority of the population thinks that the government cares about the needs of the society, so why not lift the limit on terms in office?

The progress achieved in the last 10 years, which the opposition is so keen to overlook, is obvious. We have a much better infrastructure now.

Those who didn't vote for the proposed amendment will also benefit from the all social programmes, care for the elderly and the poor, programmes to keep children off the streets, to help the addicts and alcoholics seen on the streets of our cities.

We have many problems ahead. But we have a government with a strong will to resolve them.


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