Mérida, December 1, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com)– Following the recent attacks on the social programs by opposition supporters, the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, changed his position and encouraged the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) leadership to campaign for a constitutional change that would allow for his re-election.
“I’m ready to be with you until 2019,” Chavez said during a public ceremony for the swearing-in of the mayor of the city municipality of Caracas, referring to the year when a hypothetical third six-year presidential term would end. Currently the constitution allows for only two consecutive six-year terms in office, which means Chávez would have to leave in 2013 unless the constitution is changed.
As he was discussing the recent violence by the opposition against various social programs known as “missions,” he gave his support to the PSUV and to the Venezuelan people to start a national debate around the introduction of a constitutional amendment permitting the re-election of the president.
He said, “There’s no Chavismo without Chavez and those who betray Chavez die politically.”
“Last year we lost the referendum to reform the constitution, in which one of the points was the re-election of president, and these days there has been a lot of speculation…about the issue. I want to say the following to the country: last year, when we lost the referendum I reflected, and I thought…we should always accept the decision of the majority… we lost the referendum by 10 or 15,000 votes…and I say this is a signal to me that I shouldn’t insist on the issue. I will work hard for 5 years and then a man or women leader will come out who can take on the responsibility…that’s what I thought a year ago.”
“But now I see what is happening…a big threat, with this fascism…the newspapers have initiated aggression against the people…well now I say… you [the crowd] are right, uh ah Chavez no se va! (Chavez don’t go).”
“Chavez doesn’t go. He stays. I give you my authorization…to start the debate and actions to obtain the constitutional change…”
“We’re going to show who runs Venezuela.”
One of the vice presidents of the party, Freddy Bernal, announced that the PSUV would try to make the proposal to change the constitution. For this the party will need to collect signatures from 15% of registered voters, or 2.55 million signatures. This is less than half the votes it obtained in the recent regional elections.
According to the Venezuelan constitution, article 341, amendments can either be made via initiative from 15% of registered voters or from 30% of the members of the National Assembly, or from the President on the advice of his cabinet.
“Since Monday we have been creating a multidisciplinary team to put together a report to the PSUV …to analyze the results [of the regional elections on November 23] and generate a strategy for the re-election,” Bernal said.
Today Chávez again spoke of the amendment to the constitutional two-term limit on the presidency, saying, “If we are going to do it, let’s do it quickly. … I really do not want to spend 2009 in a debate: Chávez is a tyrant, he is not a tyrant, he is half a tyrant… No.”