CARACAS, VENEZUELA – Venezuela’s diminutive strongman Hugo Chavez took another step closer to his goal of being president for life, when vote tallies from the weekend show he won his third, six-year term.
Venezuela’s National Election Council claims Chavez received about 54% of the vote, which means about 7.4 million ballots turned up marked with his name.
‘This has been the perfect struggle, the perfect battle, it was a perfect battle all along the line, a democratic battle,’ Chavez told a post-election crowd. ‘More than 8 million compatriots voted for the revolution, they voted for socialism, they voted for independence, they voted for the greatness of Venezuela, they voted for the future.’
More than 6 million Venezuelans voted for Chavez’s challenger, Henrique Capriles Radonski.
Venezuelans were not deterred by Chavez sending tanks into the city, supposedly for their protection. The government says about 81% of eligible voters turned out to cast ballots, even if they were in other countries at the time.
Thousands of Venezuelans showed up at diplomatic offices in the United States, sometimes traveling several hours.
‘We drove 23 hours to be here,’ said Gregorio Brito, who drove from Weston, Fla., to New Orleans. ‘And we can tell the people in Venezuela there’s no reason to stay in their houses, it doesn’t matter who you vote for, but you have to vote.’
Good advice as our presidential election approaches.