Tens of thousands of protestors have taken to the streets of Caracas to protest against a second attempt by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez to change the constitution.
He is calling on Venezuelans to vote on whether the president and other politicians should be allowed to run for re-election as many times as they want as long as they win. Voters rejected a similar proposal in 2007. “I am here because we all need to act so that the situation in this country stops,” said one protestor. “Because we don’t want this badly-led government to carry on eternally.” Still popular with more than half the country, Chavez has amassed considerable power and most of Venezuela’s institutions are run by his allies. During door-to-door campaigning in a poor Caracas neighbourhood, Chavez told the crowd: “I was just listening to a speech by one of the leaders of the opposition. He was saying that Chavez is going to take away everything, from their little bicycles to their houses. That’s what they’re like: lies, lies, lies. We are the truth, the truth, the truth.” Opponents say Chavez will turn Venezuela, the Western hemisphere’s largest oil exporter, into a Latin American version of communist Cuba. Chavez, who has nationalised industries and raised health and welfare spending, says he needs more time to build what he calls “21st century socialism”.