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hugo chavez

Update: Venezuelan election authorities have awarded Hugo Chavez the victory, with 54% of the vote, versus 44% for Capriles — a suspiciously high margin of victory. Sadly, it looks like the nightmare in Venezuela will continue.

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Venezuelans went to the polls today in an historic election that, for the first time in 14 years, provided some hope that the country would extract itself from the iron rule of Hugo Chavez.

The results are being watched worldwide. Venezuela is one of the world’s largest producers of oil and the Chavez regime has firmly allied itself with Cuba, Iran, Bolivia and against the USA. Obviously there are wider geo-political implications here.

And the world’s Jewish community is watching closely too. As Ben Cohen writes in Ha’aretz, Chavez’s opponent, Henrique Capriles, is a Catholic with Jewish lineage and a descendent of Holocaust survivors, and the antisemitism card was widely used by the Chavez camp during the election campaign:

Chavez’s strategy in dealing with the Capriles campaign has avoided actual policy debate. He has focused instead on demonizing his opponent as, variously, an “imperialist,” a “capitalist,” a “little bourgeois,” and – inevitably, given Capriles’ Jewish origins and Chavez’s historic willingness to deploy anti-Semitism for political purposes – a “Zionist.”

These attacks have highlighted the vulnerability of the Venezuelan Jewish community, whose numbers have declined from 30,000 – before Chavez came to power – to just 9,000 now. As a September study by Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism noted, “recent years have witnessed a rise in anti-Semitic manifestations, including vandalism, media attacks, caricatures, and physical attacks on Venezuelan Jewish institutions.”

This election is about all Venezuelans, not just the small and besieged Jewish community, of course. People reportedly lined up for hours across the country, and transplanted citizens cast their ballots from around the world. The turnout is being reported at over 70%. And while some early exit polls are predicting a narrow Caprile victory, it’s bound to be close — raising questions about whether Chavez will respect the result in the event of a loss.

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Hugo Chavez is trying again to become dictator-for-life, after being narrowly defeated last time around. Venezuelans vote in a referendum this Sunday to get rid of term limits. Observers are pessimistic that the opposition will be able to pull off a miracle a second time, but polls are close enough to think that the “no” side at least has a fighting chance.

Meanwhile, without George W. Bush in office anymore, Chavez has redirected his efforts towards the world’s favourite scapegoat: Venezuela’s Jewish community. In the past few years, antisemitism in Venezuela has reached staggering levels, and there’s every indication that things are only going to get worse.

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Some hope for Venezuela

12.03.2007

Hugo Chavez’s referendum on his bid to become a sweeping dictator was narrowly defeated, 51% No to 49% Yes. (Hmmm, what other referendum do those results remind you of?) The defeat was astonishing, particularly because Chavez had pulled pretty much every trick in the book to stack the deck, from bribing people with promises of [...]

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Okay, who has Castro in the Dead Dictator Pool?

01.16.2007

If you picked this week, you may want to start mentally planning what you’re going to do with all the cash. The secrecy surrounding Castro’s condition would seem to indicate that he’s going from bad to worse. Luckily for Fidel, he’s already managed to pass his revolutionary torch.

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Anti-Chavez demonstrations in Venezuela

12.23.2002

Now here’s something you don’t see every day: Protests against the Left. In Venezuela, tens of thousands of protesters are marching to support a giant strike against President Hugo Chavez. This isn’t exactly breaking news. Chavez hasn’t been winning too many popularity contests for a while now. But it occurs to me that we tend [...]

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