Thousands March Against Chavez Reelection

By Dialogo
February 09, 2009

On Saturday thousands of people marched in the Venezuelan capital to support the "No" ‎option on the February 15th referendum regarding a constitutional amendment promoted ‎by the government which would permit unlimited reelection.‎ Shouting "No is no," the demonstration, organized by the main opposition parties and ‎student leaders, traveled about 18 kilometers from Petare, in eastern Caracas, to the end ‎of Libertador Avenue, in the center of the city, according to AFP journalists.‎ ‎"I support 'No' because I do not want the President’s term to last beyond 2012. He wants ‎to monopolize everything, and we need to give other people the opportunity," said ‎Rolando Gonzalez, a worker who lives in Catia, a populous region to the west of the ‎Venezuelan capital.‎ Luisana Blanco, a young working mother, expressed her rejection of the unlimited ‎reelection "because we realize that we cannot continue on this path, and we must unite, ‎for we are all Venezuelans."‎ ‎"President Chavez has been governing for 10 years and hasn’t done anything, and we ‎have no jobs and no security," complained Jesus Alvarado, who came from the state of ‎Guarico (center) to support the march.‎ The demonstration was guarded by 2,500 police officers and had no incidents of ‎violence.‎ Opposition leaders acknowledged the gesture of President Hugo Chavez, who had spoken ‎on the phone yesterday with one of the demonstration’s leaders to encourage him to ‎‎“march peacefully.”‎ ‎"Yesterday, for the first time, the President made a gesture of unity while leading the ‎country (...) and said that today there would be no violence; and there was no violence ‎today. This shows that the violence starts there, because we want a Venezuela of love, ‎peace, and progress," said Manuel Rosales, the mayor of Maracaibo, who ran for ‎president in the 2006 elections.‎ The government supports the modification of five articles of the Venezuelan Constitution ‎of 1999, which would make President Hugo Chavez and all politicians eligible for ‎reelection indefinitely.‎ The opposition has described the initiative as "backward" and an excuse for President ‎Hugo Chavez to perpetuate his term and to concentrate more power in his hands.‎ Their leaders pointed out that the issue of indefinite reelection has already been included ‎in a bill to amend the Magna Carta, which was spearheaded by the government and ‎rejected by referendum in December 2007.‎