Chavez Changed Constitution, Guaranteed His Power

Wednesday, 06 Mar 2013 12:49 AM

By Todd Beamon

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Shortly after he was elected Venezuelan president in 1999, Hugo Chavez pushed through a new constitution.

He said then that the nation’s charter must be redrafted to steer Venezuela away from capitalism — and allow him to implement his socialist agenda.

But eight years later, Chavez, who died Tuesday from cancer at age 58, tried to push through another set of sweeping changes to Venezuela’s constitution — including those that would allow him to be re-elected indefinitely.

His term was to end in 2012.

That effort failed, as Chavez supporters failed to turn out in huge numbers and protests led by university students urged voters to reject scrapping term limits, among other proposals.

But he tried again, in 2009 — and, this time, Chavez won. The victory was a hard blow for opposition leaders, who failed to gain traction against Chavez as they hammered away at issues like Venezuela’s high murder rate and its serious economic problems.

Opposition leaders quickly recognized the government's victory, while acknowledging the need to better articulate an alternative to the Chávez model, The Washington Post reports.

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