The forces of democracy in Venezuela finally overcame the authoritarian policies of President Hugo Chavez by handing the would be dictator a stunning electoral defeat. Although the Chavez government controlled TV and handed out millions of dollars to supporters, the student-led opposition was able to defeat the referendum by a vote of 51% to 49%. The proposed new constitution would have allowed Chavez to appoint all officials, to pack the courts, and to serve as president forever. The constitution was a blatant effort to end democracy in the nation of Venezuela. President Chavez told his supporters not to “feel sad” since the defeat was over “microscopic differences,” and he stated to his opponents, “To those who voted against my proposal, I thank them and congratulate them. I ask all of you to go home and know how to handle your victory. You won it.”
Hopefully, this is the first step toward ending the power of Chavez who has used oil money in order to extend his power. Perhaps, his opponents now recognize the importance to the future of Venezuela of taking vigorous action to protect the rights and dignity of those in poverty. Unless issues of poverty are addressed, another Chavez will appear on the scene and next time he might be more successful in furthering movement toward a dictatorship.