Friday, January 23, 2009

Chavez To Leave In 2013 If Voters Say No To Electing Him Forever

Hugo Chavez launched a new series of newspaper columns on Thursday by urging Venezuelan voters to let him seek re-election indefinitely , and pledging to leave at the end of his term in 2013 if they turn him down. The Venezuelan leader also vilified his opponents as "colonialists" and "little Yankees" beholden to U.S. interests. The column titled "Lines from Chavez" appeared in several Venezuelan newspapers for the first time and it is scheduled to appear three times a week. Chavez's friend and mentor, Fidel Castro of Cuba, also has written frequent newspaper columns over the past year.Chavez, who has been in office since 1999, said he is putting "my entire future" in the hands of Venezuelan voters. The former paratroop commander said "this revolutionary soldier will do what the people command." Opponents say that ending term limits would endanger Venezuela's democracy and push the country further toward Cuba-style one-man rule. Venezuelans already voted down a similar measure to scrap term limits as part of a package of constitutional changes in 2007. Chavez called the Feb. 15 vote a choice between independence through his system of "democratic socialism," and another brand of government aligned with the United States that would condemn Venezuela to "the tomb of history."