Venezuela’s Chavez Says Two Terms in Office is Enough

Responding to a proposal to amend the constitution, President Chavez said that he does not favor indefinite reelections of the president and that he would be a candidate for that office only one more time, in 2006, when his current term expires.

Caracas, Sep.20, 2004 – President Hugo Chavez rejected a proposal to amend the country’s constitution so that he could be reelected more than once as president.  Chavez said yesterday during his weekly television program, “Alo Presidente” that two terms of 6 years in office is enough. The amendment proposal had been made by, Luis Velasquez Alvaray, a pro-government legislator who is currently a candidate for the Supreme Court.

Chavez said that the proposal may be misinterpreted to mean that Chavez has a plan to stay on in power continuously.  “It is not true that I have a plan to perpetuate my time in office,” the Chief of State said.  The proposal by representative Luis Velásquez Alvaray, is one surely made in good faith, but I must say that I do not agree nor do I support it and I am sure that you, the majority of those who follow me, agree with me,” Chavez said.

According to Chavez, two periods of 6 years in office are sufficient because the renewal of leaders is necessary and because he does not pretend to be an indispensable caudillo.  “I am neither a caudillo, nor am I indispensable,” Chavez said.

National Assembly member Luis Velasquez recommended that 21 articles of the Bolivarian constitution be amended to allow the President of Venezuela to be reelected indefinitely.  The proposal erupted in controversy when representatives of the “Block for Change” showed their public disagreement.  Chavez backed William Lara, a government representative who said the proposal for amendments should be discussed by the parties and will not presented until 2005.  “Brother [Velasquez] you should not have done that.  You should have consulted the parties.  That proposal places Hugo Chavez under suspicion.”

However, Chavez backed Velasquez´s freedom to express himself, while reaffirming his own freedom to disagree.  “He has the freedom to make his proposal, but equally I have the freedom to not support the proposal,” Chavez said.

Chavez did say that the text of the constitution should be revised , but he did not refer to reelections.  He referred to parts of the constitution that should be evaluated in order to strengthen the constitution.

Chavez said that given upcoming presidential elections, his future is uncertain but he assured that if he wins he will stay on for his second term.  “Now [during the referéndum] they have told me that I should continue here in charge until January 10, 2007.  I will try to do the best I can.  Now, there will be presidential elections in 2006.  I have said that that I am running as a candidate, but no one knows what can happen during these two years that perhaps obliges that I am not the candidate.  However, if circumstances permit I will participate in the elections, and if I win I will be here until Jan.10 2013.”

President Chavez said that the men and women who worked in an organized way during the presidential referendum of August 15 should continue their work towards the regional elections.

While Chavez showed his support for the decision made by opposition parties to participate in the regional elections, he said they should not attempt any actions of sabotage referring to declarations made by opposition spokespeople.