Hugo Chavez Still Trying to Become President for Life

Guess what, Hugo? People still don't want you to be president forever!

Based on polling data obtained by Reuters, a Consultores 21 survey conducted in December "found 56.8 percent of people planning to vote oppose the referendum, while 41.8 percent support the change. In another December poll, received by Reuters from Datanalysis recently, 52 percent said they would vote against the amendment with just 37.7 percent supporting it." No amount of rubber bullets fired by riot police against student demonstrators opposed to the referendum, which would eliminate the limit of two six-year presidential terms, will change that. 

Banking on the theory of "if at first you don't succeed, try try again," Hugo Chavez has dedicated his efforts to cramming indefinite electoral terms down the throats of Venezuelans. But if he thought the revolt against his "reform" referendum was a swift kick in the backside last time, he'd better prepare for another blow next month. His desired Feb. 15 election date -- vote, people, vote, before the price of oil falls more and the government looks worse for sticking its head in the mud -- was approved last Friday by the National Electoral Council. 

Or -- and he may have been planning this all along -- he'd better burnish his absolute takeover plan in which he tenderly yet forcefully guides the ignorant masses into his vision of 21st century socialism. He reminded his captive audience in an excruciating eight-hour annual address (which he started three hours late) last week that the "Simón Bolívar Socialist Plan 2007-2013" was the law, and a mandate of his 2006 re-election. "We are implementing the first national socialist plan 2007-2013. This plan is a law passed by the National Assembly. We must remember that. This is a law." 

"I am the law" would have been a more accurate statement from Chavez, as he vowed "only people and time will drive me out of office." Only he must steer the folks not on board with the socialism plan -- namely, the opposition whom he accused in his address of cooking up fears of financial crisis even as oil prices have tanked and last year Venezuela saw 32 percent inflation.

But now he sees the deadline staring him in the face: 2013, the year he'd be termed out of office if he doesn't either get his referendum to pass or keep the reins by force. Dutifully, lawmakers passed the resolutions last week that pushed the referendum before voters. Six lawmakers were brave enough to oppose Chavez's referendum re-run, while five abstained.