“Chavez vows to accelerate his revolution through a referendum on Sunday, when Venezuelans vote on constitutional changes that create new forms of ‘collective’ and ‘social’ property and formalize the economy as socialist.
The reforms would also allow Chavez to stay in power for as long as he keeps winning elections, and increase state powers to expropriate private property.”
From The New York Times:
“Three days before a referendum that would vastly expand the powers of President Hugo Chavez, this city’s streets were packed with tens of thousands of opponents to the change on Thursday, a sign that Venezuelans may be balking at placing so much authority in the hands of one man.
Even some of Mr. Chavez’s most fervent supporters are beginning to show signs of hesitation at supporting the constitutional changes he is promoting, including ending term limits for the president and greatly centralizing his authority.
New fissures are emerging among his once-cohesive supporters, pointing to the toughest test at the polls for Mr. Chavez in his nine-year presidency.”
From USA Today:
“Even some longtime supporters say Chávez has gone too far in trying to cement his control over daily life. The government is ‘confiscating the rights of the people,’ says Ismael Garcia, a member of the National Assembly who helped Chávez regain power after an attempted coup in 2002 but now is campaigning against the referendum. ‘It's not democratic,’ Garcia says.
Chávez says the changes will allow him to implement a centralized socialist state better equipped to improve the lives of Venezuela's poor. The reforms would remove presidential term limits, cut the workday to six hours and make it easier for the state to seize private property. ‘Communal cities’ would be established under presidential control, which could allow Chávez to ignore elected local officials. The president also would be able to suspend civil rights in emergencies.”