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Last Updated: Friday, 20 August, 2004, 12:09 GMT 13:09 UK
What next for Venezuela after the referendum?
Venezuela referendum
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez waves to supporters from the balcony of the Presidential Palace.
The Venezuelan electoral authorities are to take an audit of Sunday's referendum result which confirmed President Hugo Chavez in office.

Mr Chavez won the vote by a wide margin but his opponents claim the result is fraudulent.

International observers have said they found no evidence of fraud.

Washington, long suspicious of Mr Chavez who has forged links with Cuban leader Fidel Castro among others, accepted his victory on Tuesday after initial hesitation.

What is the future for Venezuela after the referendum? How can people in Venezuela reunite? What is the possible global impact of the situation in Venezuela? Can international organizations help at all?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

Looking to all these comments, it seems rather amazing that the vast majority of pro Chavez comments are not written by Venezuelans. The only thing that this means is that Chavez is doing a hell of a job advertising himself abroad. Regretfully the future doesn't seem so bright from the inside.
Jorge Morales, Caracas, Venezuela.

Unfortunately, as with every populist movement in Latin America this great victory won by the majority poor and non-white Venezuelans will be steadfastly suppressed by the opposition who continue to receive support and aide from the Bush government. Examples such as Allende in Chile, Arbenz in Guatemala, the FSLN in Nicaragua, the FMLN in El Salvador and many others should serve as a reminder to the victors that their democratic voice will not be heard so long as Washington covers it ears and eyes.
Joaquin, Los Angeles, United States

I have lived in Venezuela all my life. These past 5 years have done nothing to alleviate poverty in Venezuela. Considering how high oil prices are, Chavez would have significantly helped the country by now and hasn't. The Referendum is at least in my opinion a fraud, the only one who has announced these results is a 'Chavista' and the 2 other CNE officials have not commented yet. Allowing Chavez to getting away with it would mean he can get away with anything and internationally no one cares¿
Elizabeth Garzon, Caracas, Venezuela

I voted by "SI", but now am happy that Chavez's "NO" won. How else can I feel after the pitifully pathetic picture of my opposition leaders not only being unable to admit their clear defeat, but hysterically encouraging people to create chaos.
Yadira Rivas Tinoco, Nova Scotia, Canada

This is the worst election in years, the voters opinion was destroyed.
David, Caracas, Venezuela

Venezuela is one of the top biggest world's petroleum exporting country. That's why the US is trying to interfere and manipulate there. Chavez is the man who rules for the poor Venezuelans and who makes the oil money work for the country, not for "Miami". If I were a Venezuelan I would surely vote for Chavez too.
Jon Huhm, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Opposition doesn't offer us a serious plan for our country, they just want Chávez out from the Office
Ami, Caracas, Venezuela
We Venezuelans have voted for Chávez aging because opposition doesn't offer us a serious plan for our country, they just want Chávez out from the Office. Poor people can't stand more strikes, poor people just want to work and let our president Chávez go on working with a more conscious opposition aware of our real problems, not what the old leaders invented! There is not fraud, they don't want to see the reality: the majority of people are poor and support the president Chávez! The media cant not hide the reality anymore what it happened in Venezuela is a lesson for all the Latin-American countries and all the world!
Ami, Caracas, Venezuela

Let's see how good Chavez is as president of Venezuela. Now he has all the power and will stay in office till 2006. By that time there will be no more poor people, unemployment, inflation. Time will tell. My guess is that things will be worse. God help us!
Susan, Caracas, Venezuela

One more time Venezuelan has shown the World especially the US how to play Democracy; just remember it is been with the popular vote that Chávez is where he is now, ratified for third time as the President of Venezuela. Nevertheless every person lives their on reality and those who don't want to see the reality of others will never understand that in Venezuela the poor represents around 70% of the country's population. It was Chávez who after 40 years of corrupt "democracy" has addressed for first time poverty, the country's first social priority. Let's accept the country's reality, work all together to make it better and restore the peace among the Venezuelan.
Ernesto López, Seattle, WA US

Like every communist, Mr. Chavez blames the US for every problem of the world, Yesterday we were very optimist about the results and suddenly the pro government electoral council announced that result which obviously indicates a fraud. It's sad.
Carlos, Caracas, Venezuela

Claims of fraud against Chavez are unfounded- even the 'international community' has approved the vote, even though I would suspect they hoped Chavez would lose. The upper sectors of Venezuela need to accept the fact that they are not the only people that count in Venezuela.
Claims of fraud against Chavez are unfounded
Chris Courtheyn, US citizen in Chile

Obviously, the majority is with Chavez and I hope that the opposition will stop calling him a dictator when he has won three elections the past 5 years. I admit Chavez is a divisive figure whose policies probably will not end poverty for the working classes, but what is the alternative from the opposition? I ask them, do you really want to keep hoarding the country's wealth and await another series of riots from the lower sector as occurred in the Caracazo in the late 1980s? At least Chavez is a start to ending the drastic inequality in Venezuela and giving the lower classes a voice.
Chris Courtheyn, US citizen in Chile

I´m from Venezuela and I´m living in Venezuela, so I really know what is happening in my country. The victory of Chavez is important and good for Venezuela. The opposition is not democratic and now my country will probably see violence and the world will know who they are. Chavez will be in power until 2006, and maybe for more.
Trilce , Caracas, Venezuela

Clearly Chavez won the referendum, so let the man govern! The country needs to settle down and get back into order.
Basil, New York, USA

It is difficult to reunite people that have been politically polarized as Venezuelans have during the Chavez presidency.
It is difficult to reunite people that have been politically polarized as Venezuelans have during the Chavez presidency
Luis Jimenez, USA
While the future may seem gloomy, there exist a great opportunity to better all Venezuelans if the Chavez government and the opposition are able to reconcile their differences. Like the President, the opposition bares a significant burden in ensuring a prosperous future for Venezuela and all its citizens.
Luis Jimenez, USA

It hurts me to see so many pro-Chavez comments coming from foreigners, I don't understand what you mean when you say Chavez is helping the poor, because the only real way to help is by generating jobs, and what he has managed is to scare-off investors, both local and international in his time in government.
It hurts me to see so many pro-Chavez comments coming from foreigners
Hannali, Caracas, Venezuela
Tell me what is the value of his social programs when unemployment and poverty have only risen since he has been around? Here in Caracas there is no one celebrating today and it is because even the Chavistas are surprised at the results, we have come to realize we are totally at the mercy of the government.
Hannali, Caracas, Venezuela

A great victory for the poor. May the people of the USA take a lesson from this and vote for basic human rights, such as accessible health care.
Vinod Moonesinghe, Rajagiriya, Sri Lanka

I will suggest my people to move forward. Let the man work and finish the rest of his period. We need to be united and not divided.
Christian Gonzalez, Houston, TX - USA

America should learn about democracy from Venezuela
Hasnan Senge, Los Angeles

All the people around the world writing beautiful things about Chavez helping the poor should take some time and visit Venezuela and verify how many of the poor are actually better off since he took power.
All the people around the world writing beautiful things about Chavez helping the poor should take some time and visit Venezuela
E. Casanova, Miami
No improvements. People are poorer. Also, check the life styles of his cabinet members, Supreme Court, Congress. They were not rich people, none of them, and their salaries do not allow for luxurious life style. Go check on that too. See the spending and rich life styles they all have presently. For the poor? yeah, right!
E. Casanova, Miami - USA

I believe that there was a very subtle fraud in last Sunday's referendum. Some international observers were taken in. I will not play this game again. I will not vote again until I see in office, at the National Election Council (CNE), people that inspire confidence in fair play. The European Union observers did not endorse the election process. Too bad that the Carter Centre and OAS were led to believe that it was a clean process. It wasn't. International organizations can help by cutting off all initiatives this government may have to "export the revolution" to other countries. This will help other countries. Our situation will have to be dealt by the Venezuelan people.
Cesar, Caracas, Venezuela

As a Cuban refugee, the only that I can tell to the Venezuelan people , I'm sorry for you.
Tete, Tampa Fl. USS

More baby-crying tactics from the opposition leaders in Venezuela, and this might become quite nasty indeed.
More baby-crying tactics from the opposition leaders in Venezuela, and this might become quite nasty indeed
Ray Sandal, Ottawa, Canada
They have USA backing and just want to control Venezuela's oil. These guys simply won't stop at nothing.
Ray Sandal, Ottawa, Canada

The success of Chavez is meaningful where almost all media are under opposition's grip. The opposition should accept the result and work for the unity of the country together with Chavez.
Jong-hyon Shin, Georgetown, Guyana

Congratulations, Mr. Chavez! Well deserved victory.
Mario Oliveira, Rio de Janeiro - Brazil

Not surprising that the majority of Venezuelans expressing their views on this page are against Chavez.
Obviously, Chavez supporters are not these who can afford neither a computer with internet connection nor studies in London
Chadi, Lebanon
Obviously, Chavez supporters are not these who can afford neither a computer with internet connection nor studies in London!
Chadi, Lebanon

Your article says "in fevered Venezuela, violence is never far away." This is patently untrue, given the country's long history of democratic stability in the 20th century. The clear political majority in Venezuela evidenced by the referendum means that democracy for the foreseeable future will be Chavista, hence populist or neo-populist. To the degree that this results in concrete benefits for the poor majority, this is an excellent development. The Coordinadora Democratica must step up to its responsibility by playing according to the rules of the game, and perform its role as the legitimate opposition which holds the government's feet to the fire. International organizations can help the social work being done by the Bolivarian state, and ensuring the health of the democratic institutions.
Michael N. Escobar, Berkeley, California

Unfortunately people believe that Chavez is helping the poor. The levels of poverty and corruption from the government are one the highest in our history.
Unfortunately people believe that Chavez is helping the poor
Mayari Genova, Boston, USA
How can we talk about a revolution and a president for the people when we had the highest revenues from oil in the past 10 years, and the poverty, cost of living, and inflation just keep going up? What revolution is that? We need help this is a fraud!
Mayari Genova, Boston, USA

Even for the opposition and the US government, the Chavez's victory was something to expect. This is a victory for the world's democracy and people who like social justice. Chavez is a leader who has survived the most criminal acts of sabotage by oligarchy groups backed by the US.

The main problem in Venezuela is that such oligarchy groups have handled Venezuela with all its resources and wealth during 40 years. Obviously, they are now reluctant to leave other people, especially from popular classes, to get some benefit from the country's wealth.
Antonio, Caracas, Venezuela

Venezuela is giving a lesson to the world. This kind of referendum giving the people the chance to recall a president at mid-term is unprecedented in history.
This kind of referendum giving the people the chance to recall a president at mid-term is unprecedented in history
Bill Miller, London U
Venezuela is exercising "real participatory democracy". The new constitution became the great ally of the Chavez Revolution.
Bill Miller, London UK

Those opposing Chavez only have the previous governments and themselves to blame. If they had addressed their country's impoverished people perhaps the poor would not see Chavez as their only hope. Maybe one day the opposition will learn that allowing the majority of voters to languish in poverty won't help them in the polls.
Lorelei Bunjes, Australia (Ex-Pat American)

This event is one of the most frustrating in my life, after fleeing from Political/Military threats in 1999 while being a Debt Negotiator Attorney for 10 years for my Country, with no political inclinations. Where can my hopes as a human being and more than any other thing, as a Venezuelan professional second to none, is my future heading? Perhaps cleaning toilets in a refined restaurant in the U.S.? I cannot allow such a thing after all my life being invested in a career and now all of it is gone for good??
Roberto J. Poinçot-Leopardi, Miami, Fl / Caracas, Venezuela.

Venezuelan society will keep polarized, as Chavez message will be the same; if you are not with me you are against me.
Venezuelan society will keep polarized, as Chavez message will be the same
Jose G Perez, Caracas, Venezuela
As simple as that. Also it is easy to predict that the country will not improve as it has happened for the past 5 years.
Jose G Perez, Caracas, Venezuela

What is up with all the rhetoric about fraud? How do you prove fraud when the international observers say that everything was fair? And why is it that when popular voice wins it is a fraud, but when the elite class runs the life of the poor it is all just fine? You are all just cry-babies because this means less money for you. Oh, well¿
Nino Spahic, Atlanta, USA

Now, perhaps, the US will be forced to recognise the legitimacy of the Chavez government and will cease its aggressive rhetoric. It would be nice to see a Latin-American country allowed to govern itself, without the interference of Washington. A bit more thorough and impartial media coverage of the situation in Venezuela would also be welcome. This is probably the best and most helpful thing the international media can do right now.
William Orr, Barcelona, Spain

This is the biggest fraud I have ever seen. As a Venezuelan living outside of my country I feel very disappointed with this result, especially after checking by
This is the biggest fraud I have ever seen
Jesus Núñez, UK
myself what the people wanted, which is what happened in the London voting centre, where the SI (YES) won over 90% of the votes.
Jesus Núñez, UK

It is a good thing Chavez won. The elite who had ruled before him were helping their class. What's so wrong with Chavez helping his? After all, he did not cause the widespread poverty in Venezuela. The 'gentlemen' who had ruled for years before him did.
S.Singh, USA/India

I see a dark future for our great country, unfortunately. The president does not have the knowledge to run a country, and everybody around him,
I see a dark future for our great country
Andres, Caracas, Venezuela
are taking advantage of this. Some people are getting very rich while the rest of the country is getting poor.
Andres, Caracas, Venezuela

So what? Why should International Organizations get involved? Is it oil again?
Why should International Organizations get involved?
Tony, Portland, USA
I begin to wish we'd hurry up and run out, there wouldn't be so many wars.
Tony, Portland, USA

Mr. Chavez may speak for Venezuela's poor, and the poor there do need a voice, but he should not be confused with a good leader. A good leader would balance the needs of the poor with the need to keep the country together. Chavez seems to have more of a divide-and-rule approach, and in the larger picture this doesn't help his country.
Melvin, NYC, NY

I think the political instability will continue until US gets Chavez. The U.S. has never liked a democratically elected country with oil resources.
S.N.Rao, Boulder ,U.S.A

I am an Arab studying currently in the Netherlands. All what I want to say is that most of the Arabs look at Venezuela with envy! We hope one day we will have
We hope one day we will have our own Chavez
Abdallah Soufan, Leiden, Netherlands
our own Chavez. Congratulations on the lower class victory!
Abdallah Soufan, Leiden, Netherlands

As Venezuelan my heart cries out. Venezuela is on its way of becoming a second Cuba.
Aires Thode, Caracas, Venezuela

This is an excellent result for President Chavez and indeed for Venezuela, but it will not stop the plotters inside Venezuela who are already crying foul, these extremists reject democracy reject any improvement in the condition of the Venezuelan working classes, its now time for them to shut up and accept that the people of Venezuela have rejected their far right
This is an excellent result for President Chavez and indeed for Venezuela
Denis Doody, England
extremist decadent views, I say well done Chavez and well done to the honest decent majority who have made it clear they want Chavez, and not some right wing American stooge.
Denis Doody, England

The power of the underprivileged has spoken and the affluent should listen. You cannot just ignore the poor in the present day politics, it is happening everywhere. The Venezuelans - the majority of them - say they like their President because he cares for them. Let the opposition wait until 2007.
Sammy Ken Ballace, Kumasi, Ghana

I'm a Venezuelan who opposes Mr Chavez. Obviously the referendum is a fraud. What's next to Venezuela? we only can pray and hope that the international community take a position, because a new dictatorial regimen is being born in our country and the world can not let appear another Cuba or Iraq.
Álvaro Moncada, Venezuela

Chavez is a dictator; he uses all the tricks to maintain himself in power
Chavez is a dictator; he uses all the tricks to maintain himself in power
Gustavo Baquero, Caracas ,Venezuela
All The Social Programs that he do, are a populism like Eva Peron's.
Gustavo Baquero, Caracas ,Venezuela

What next for Venezuela? In the short term, there will be fresh hope of a better life for millions. But in the long term, there will be disillusionment with this populism disguised as well intentioned wealth redistribution. It is ironic that Venezuelans are placing their hopes on a system today that us Central Americans experimented 25 years ago and failed
Carlos F Gonzalez, Panama

I think the people of Venezuela have done the right thing to let him stay on. If things work out in Venezuela expect the rest of Latin America to follow this course. Chavez seems to be making inroads into solving poverty, ending illiteracy etc.
Andrew Baxter, Seoul, South Korea

There was no fraud possible. This was a clear election which took a bit longer but everybody could give his vote. Opposition leaders just don't know any better. They should recognize and start building a Venezuela for everybody. This was a big victory for democracy. Viva Venezuela!
Zlatko Stanojevic, Caracas Venezuela

If Chavez has successfully resisted attempts by US-backed opposition to have him removed then we can all sigh with relief that yet another country with extensive oil assets has not come under US influence. Chavez is a populist, something the US administration doesn't like. He is prepared to put his poor before US corporate interests. I wish a few more countries would follow his example. Then we would have less terrorists in the world.
John Farmer, Henley-on-Thames, UK

This is a great day for democracy.
This is a great day for democracy.
tefan Jentsch, Munich, Germany
Let's see how much democracy the Americans can take!
Stefan Jentsch, Munich, Germany

I think Mr.Chavez's victory is a victory of democracy against the agents of imperialist who have been trying for the last four years to gain control of the oil wealth of the country. Because Mr. Chavez is of indigenous Venezuelan origin that is intolerable to the so called democracy advocates, like imperialist USA and UK.
Randy Cross, Taverse city, MI,USA

For those who wrote nice stuff about Chávez. I just have to say: Come to Venezuela! If you think they are helping poor people, come here and see it with your own eyes. Particularly I see more poverty, while it should be the opposite with such as high oil prices. You would ask then, why people follow Chavez? Easy. He has supported his social plans with an intense
For those who wrote nice stuff about Chávez. I just have to say: Come to Venezuela!
Alexander Saavedra, Caracas, Venezuela
advertising campaign. Social plans have been the same as in the past but with different names. He was claiming that if he did not win, people were going to stop receiving their "help".
Alexander Saavedra, Caracas, Venezuela

No help, no hope. Chavez is a highly polarizing figure, a demagogue promising the destitute of Venezuela a pie in a sky. His economic policy (modelled after Cuba's Castro) reminds me of Allende's catastrophic one in Chile. The problem is that whether Chavez stays or goes there will always be half of the country feeling helpless. I think that U.S.
The problem is that whether Chavez stays or goes there will always be half of the country feeling helpless
Mirek Kondracki, American in Poland
will sit this one out, because any action on our part, no matter how fair and benign will be perceived by South America's poor as an attempt to subjugate one of biggest oil exporters in the world. Isn't worth it!
Mirek Kondracki, American in Poland

I was not surprised that Chavez won considering the majority of Venezuela is poor and Chavez is helping the poor. The opposition does have the loudest voice because they own the private media, but they are really the minority, which the referendum showed. The only way for a good future is if the opposition accepts Chavez victory and stops meddling until the next election. The only way opposition would quiet down is if the US stops supporting the opposition.
Phillip, Ottawa Canada

A great victory for democracy and a slap in the face for American hegemony. Congratulations to Mr Chavez and the great Venezuelan people.
Nausherwan Lahori, Lahore, Pakistan

Chavez is a truly extraordinary phenomenon. Anyone who followed the short lived coup will be left in no doubt about his charismatic leadership, something that the world in a way hungers for in its political leaders. Like all politicians he is flawed, but what other chance do the poor of Venezuela have? The country has so much potential, but is locked in perhaps the last great battle of socialism and capitalism. Is he a dictator? Then why do the poor support him so much even when their gains have been few? Is he not right to demand that his country get full benefit from their oil?
The country has so much potential, but is locked in perhaps the last great battle of socialism and capitalism
Tony Sheehan, Cork Ireland
And, when documentaries highlight the role of media in ideology, is it not the case that Chavez truly is the Anti-Globalisation symbol, the last socialist hero?
Tony Sheehan, Cork Ireland

Venezuela is for everybody! The results should be accepted and we need to keep working for our country.
Nora Moncada, Caracas- Venezuela

My wife is Venezuelan and I grew up there. This is nothing but a fraud. Chavez cannot be trusted. This is a person that divides the people by creating resentment. The poor aren't better with him, they are just concerned with the "rich" being poor, and that is what it all comes down to. Lower classes are not doing much better. I see nothing good coming.
Marcus, Washington DC (Caracas)

The victory of Chavez is a boon for the poor and working classes in Venezuela, he may not have done everything for them, but he has at least given them a voice. I think the possibility of Venezuela reuniting is slight because, finally, the class lines have been drawn, they have always been there but since the government only represented the oligarchies no one could see it. Chavez' victory helps consolidate the wave of populist left sweeping Latin America and good luck to the vast majority who deserve someone who at least stands up for them. My only worry is that the "democratic" opposition will resort to their old tricks again, they have pulled off one coup, hopefully we won't have another Chile on our hands.
Robert Knox, Preston, UK

I am glad that Chavez won - it shows democracy is working. However, I hope Chavez is not so naive as to think Castro is an ally. I do not like the way Gov. Gray Davis of California was thrown out mid-term. I think this is very destabilizing. It is a good thing that Chavez is still in.
Kaye, NY USA

Good News. A clear vote for Chavez which should bring stability to the country, oil markets and the region.
Edward Teague, Oldham.UK

Venezuelan people are victim of a fraud again. Please, Venezuela needs the help of the international institutions. Chavez is a dictator and want to destroy my country. Please help us. After the referendum and before this fraud, we are asking for help
Ana, London-UK

Now we will see the CIA in action because President Bush will not accept the democratic decision of the Venezuelan people. If I was Chavez I would not sell oil to anybody, I would keep it for the Venezuelans.
Anteo Sergovich, Istria, Croatia

It's a bad day for democracy in Venezuela if Chavez does stay in power. Venezuela is just another nation with great oil wealth and can't manage it in a way most people get any benefit from it. Same goes for Nigeria, Mexico, Russia and most of the Middle East. So much wealth going to so few people lead to so much of the world's instability. This is where change is needed and with Chavez maintaining his grip on power, that change is nowhere down the line.
Dan Braverman, Minnesota USA

A great victory for Chavez and the poor of Venezuela. Let's hope that this is the last attempt by the U.S.prompted opposition to sell out their country. Let Chavez do his job and help the poor not line the pockets of the rich.
Brendan Keegan, Dublin Ireland

Chavez named as referendum winner
16 Aug 04 |  Americas
In pictures: Venezuela votes
15 Aug 04 |  In Pictures
Analysis: Chavez at eye of storm
13 Aug 04 |  Americas

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