Chavez: Venezuelan People Can Present New Reform Proposal

The Venezuelan people have the capacity to modify and newly present the constitutional reform proposal defeated in the referendum on December 2, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Tuesday.
The political commentary and satire show "The Razorblade" on Venezuelan state TV.

Caracas, December 5, 2007
( – The Venezuelan people have the capacity to modify and
newly present the constitutional reform proposal defeated in the referendum on
December 2, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Tuesday, during a telephone
call to the popular political commentary program La Hojilla (the Razorblade) on
the Venezuelan state TV channel VTV.

During his phone call, Chavez
reflected on the referendum results and affirmed that he had lost the right to
introduce a constitutional reform proposal. However, he said, "the Venezuelan
people have the power and the right to present a request for constitutional
reform before this [presidential] term finishes, of which there is still five

Under the Bolivarian
Constitution of 1999, the President, the National Assembly or 15 percent of
registered voters have the right to present a proposal for constitutional

The Venezuelan people, Chavez
emphasized, could present another reform proposal "next year or in three

"It doesn't have to be exactly
the same," he continued, "It can be in the same direction, but in a different
form, improved and simplified, because I have to accept that the reform that we
presented was very complex. And in the debate it became more complex. This was
utilized by our adversaries and we lacked the capacity to explain it."

Chavez's original
constitutional reform proposal on August 15 contained changes to 33 articles;
this was then increased to a total of 69 articles during the debate in the
National Assembly.

During his concession speech in
the early hours of Monday morning Chavez conceded that perhaps the timing of
the reform proposal was wrong. However, pointing to the extremely narrow margin
of the opposition victory, he declared on La Hojilla, "Despite it being an
early offensive, we nearly won!"

"We will consolidate this
strength and increase this strength and then there will come a new offensive,
that can achieve it through popular means," he assured.

Chavez said he hoped the people
would take up this initiative, while maintaining the principle objective; "the
transformation of the state."

"The discussion around the
transformation of the state is not over," he continued, "this is the moment to
begin a true reflection and self-criticism."

While the opposition increased
their vote only slightly from 4.4 million in the presidential elections last
year to 4.5 million against the reforms, it appears that up to 2.8 million
people that voted for Chavez in the presidential elections abstained in the
constitutional reform referendum.

Reflecting on the suggestion
that many people may have abstained from voting in the referendum in protest
over the performance of many regional majors and governorships aligned with
‘Chavismo,' Chavez said, "If some people did not vote because they were annoyed
by the lack of a response to some of their demands by some entity, then this is
not a thing to flagellate ourselves over, because the proposal attacked
directly the vices in the said bodies, such as corruption and bureaucracy that
have precisely held back the demands of the people. The people that did not
vote or voted against the reform, because they were annoyed or discontent,
voted against themselves."

Chavez also ridiculed the
international media campaign to discredit and personally attack him, particularly
television channel CNN that has begun to spread information about a supposed crisis
in the revolutionary government in reaction to the results of the electoral
process on December 2.

Assuring that he was continuing
to work hard for the revolution, Chavez said, "For me this is not a defeat and
I don't consider that this is a victory of the opposition. Here what exists is
the maintenance of an opening towards a path for a new homeland. What they
leave out of their invented accounts of crisis and of people easily defeated
and sad, is that Chavez is still here for a while."

He also completely denied the
versions of El Nacional journalist Hernán Lugo-Galicia, who alleged in
an interview with Daniel Viotto on CNN in Spanish that Chavez had only accepted
the results of the referendum because of pressure from the Military High

"Of these rumors that the
Military High Command was ready to continue with plans of destabilization that
the opposition had ready; there is one thing to make clear, that the current
Military High Command is more solid than ever because of the Revolution, because
of their commitment, because of their respect for the Constitution."

General Jesús Gregorio González
González, chief of the Strategic Operational Command also phoned in to La
Hojilla minutes later to confirm that the claims by Lugo-Galicia are "made up stories."