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November 24, 2007
Chavez: Only a 'Traitor' Will Vote No
Well, at least the opposition in Venezuela knows where they stand in the lead up to the referendum early next month on whether to make that country a socialist dictatorship:
President Hugo Chavez warned his supporters on Friday that anyone voting against his proposed constitutional changes would be a "traitor," rallying his political base before a referendum that would let him seek unlimited re-election in 2012 and beyond. At the moment, Chavez is riding high as he is hugely popular among the country's poor. His promises to redistribute the wealth of the nation resonate with people who have little or nothing and very little hope for the future.
Brandishing a little red book listing his desired 69 revisions to Venezuela's charter, Chavez exhorted his backers to redouble their efforts toward a victorious "yes" vote in the Dec. 2 ballot.
"He who says he supports Chavez but votes 'no' is a traitor, a true traitor," the president told an arena packed with red-clad supporters. "He's against me, against the revolution and against the people."
His speech followed the recent high-profile defection of his former Defense Minister Gen. Raul Baduel, a longtime ally who called the president's proposed reforms a "coup." Others have also broken with the Chavista movement in recent months, including politicians of the small left-leaning party Podemos.
The opposition, meanwhile, is disheartened, intimidated, and divided. It seems a foregone conclusion that the referendum on December 2 will pass and Chavez will get his dictatorial powers along with the ability to keep running for president as long as he is alive.
Given his actions in the past, it is likely that one of the first steps taken by Chavez will be to severely curtail or even outlaw opposition parties. This will guarantee his presidency for life as well as remove any obstacles in Congress to do whatever he wishes to the Venezuelan people.
A curtain is about to fall on Venezuela. And there doesn't seem to be anyone able to stop it.