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Venezuela

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Index
  1. Venezuela Main Page
  2. The Hugo Chavez Era Begins
  3. Chavez Survives Referendum, Consolidates Power
  4. New Referendum Fails but Chavez is Undeterred
  5. New Challenges for Chavez at Home and Abroad
  6. Chavez Experiences Electoral Setback and Battles Health Issues
  7. Major League Baseball Player Kidnapped
  8. An End to the Monroe Doctrine?
  9. Chavez Wins 2012 Presidential Election
  10. Chavez Still Battling Cancer in Late 2012
  11. Chavez's New Term Begins Without Him
  12. Chavez Dies After a Long Battle with Cancer
  13. Special Election Held to Replace Chavez
  14. Protests Turn Violent in 2014
Chavez Survives Referendum, Consolidates Power

Beginning in early Dec. 2002, a general strike was called by business and labor leaders. By Jan. 2003 it had virtually brought the economy, including the oil industry, to a halt. Strike leaders pledged to continue until Chavez resigned or agreed to early elections. But in Feb. 2003, after nine weeks, the strikers conceded defeat. In Aug. 2003, a petition with 3.2 million signatures was delivered to the country's election commission, demanding a recall referendum on Chavez. The Chavez government challenged the referendum process rigorously, and petitions submitted in Sept. 2003 and Feb. 2004 were rejected as invalid. The electoral board finally accepted a petition in June 2004 and scheduled the referendum for August 15. Chavez, who had been shoring up his standing with the Venezuelan poor during the delays, won the referendum with an overwhelming 58% of the vote. The opposition alleged fraud, but international observers confirmed that there had been no irregularities. Chavez's hand was clearly strengthened, and by the spring of 2005, his popularity rating reached 70%, due in large part to his social spending programs. In Dec. 2005 parliamentary elections, Chávez's Fifth Republic Movement won 114 of 167 seats, and the remaining seats were won by his allies. The opposition boycotted the election, maintaining they could not trust the pro-Chavez National Electoral Council. President Chávez won reelection in Dec. 2006 with 63% of the vote.

In early 2007, Chávez took significant steps to further consolidate his power and move Venezuela closer to becoming a socialist state. In January, he announced the nationalization of major energy and telecommunications companies. Days later, the National Assembly voted to allow Chávez to rule by decree for 18 months. In May, Chávez shut down the main opposition television station, RCTV, which has been critical of the government. The National Assembly voted in August to abolish presidential term limits.

In November 2007, the Colombian army captured FARC rebels who were carrying videos, photographs, and letters of about 15 hostages, some who have been held in jungle camps by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, for nearly ten years. The Marxist-inspired FARC—the largest rebel group in Latin America—has been waging guerilla wars against the Colombian government for 40 years. Hostages included three American military contractors and Ingrid Betancourt, former Colombian presidential candidate. Also in November, Uribe withdrew his support of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez’s attempts to negotiate with the FARC, escalating tension between the two countries. Chávez subsequently withdrew the Venezuelan ambassador to Colombia.

Next: New Referendum Fails but Chavez is Undeterred
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