Venezuela votes on president's reforms
Friday 17 December 1999
Over half the electorate, however, abstained from thelandmark national referendum on Wednesday. Supporters blamed the low voter turn out on torrential rains, which triggered mudslides north of the capital Caracas that killed 50 people and forced 120,000 to evacuate their homes. But some analysts believe that Mr Chavez's critics prefer to lie low while he consolidates his power.
During his campaigning, Mr Chavez denounced his opposition as members of a "rancid oligarchy", comprised of "degenerates" and "squealing pigs". When church leaders cautioned against some of the constitutional changes - which will empower the military, abolish the Senate, and even alter the country's name to the Bolivaran Republic of Venezuela - the former paratrooper said that they should be "exorcised".
Mr Chavez is calling for new elections early next year, and with the military now eligible to vote, he is expected to ride on his wave of popularity before economic realities begin to bite. As old institutions are scrapped and corruption rooted out, the rich are getting nervous. Since the left-leaning populist took office in February, the economy has contracted by 10 per cent and an estimated $4bn has left the country. While Mr Chavez boasts that his constitution "puts a brake on savage neo-liberalism", it also reduces the working week to 44 hours, curtails market forces and inhibits private initiative.
Extensive new pension benefits and universal free health programmes guaranteed by the new charter will be funded by state petro-dollars, but some economists warn that they will soon become an excessive financial burden. They worry that President Chavez, whose 1992 attempted coup was foiled, is grounding this "peaceful revolution" on class conflicts that will alienate investors.
- 1 Mystery of the Siberian holes at the end of the world 'solved': Scientists offer explanation
- 2 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness
- 3 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 4 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
Lost portraits of the Somme: 100 images of Tommies posing before they went over the top. Now can you help to identify them?
Mystery of the Siberian holes at the end of the world 'solved': Scientists offer explanation
Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness
Sabina Altynbekova, the girl branded 'too good looking' for volleyball, says social media obsession with her is a 'bit much'
Ashley Cole tweets unsettling meme of him stalking ex-wife Cheryl Cole and new husband Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
- < Previous
- Next >
Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: A VERY HIGH QUALITY FIRM A high qual...
£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...
£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...
£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...