Caracas, August 16, 2004 — Outside the presidential palace, thousands listened to President Hugo Chavez’ victory speech shortly after the country’s only electoral authority (CNE) announced the preliminary results of the presidential referendum which show that a majority of Venezuelans voted to keep Chavez as President of Venezuela.
Chavez supporters cheering the president during his victory speech from the
balcony of the presidential palace Miraflores.
Results of the referendum were announced by CNE President, Francisco Carrasquero, shortly after 4 am this morning. According to Carrasquero, results of 94.49 per cent of ballots from automatic voting machines, show that the pro-Chaves side won 58.25 per cent of the popular vote while the opposition received 41.75 per cent, not enough to oust President Chavez.
Waving Venezuelan flags and wearing red clothing, Chavez supporters crowded outside Miraflores, the presidential palace, to listen to President Chavez guarantee the constitutional rights of all Venezuelans and even the rights of foreign companies to operate in the country. He said today is a “victory of the people of Venezuela and a victory of the Bolivarian constitution.” Amid chants of “volvio, volvio, volvio,” meaning “he returned,” Chavez congratulated the people of Venezuela for today’s victory. “You have shown today that you are truly victors,” adding that today’s victory is not only Venezuela’s, but “a victory for the people of Latin America and the Caribbean who are struggling for their freedom.” Chavez said to the cheering crowd as a light early morning drizzle turned into a rainfall, “you have given me a rainfall of love and you have given me the support to continue serving you, to give a country to our people, to our children, to our grandchildren.” President Chavez said.
“Venezuela has changed for ever, there’s no going back to the past, the fourth republic [of the pre-1999 constitution] has died,” Chavez said to cheers of “no volveran!” or “they will not return!” “My respectful salute to those Venezuelans who do not agree with us 100 per cent to join us. We respect them and I invite them all, the opposition, and the independents to come with us and begin this new chapter — I invite those that call themselves our adversaries to see the positive accomplishments of the Bolivarian revolution, like the Misión Robinson [literacy program] and like Barrio Adentro [community health care clinics], and call for them to respect the wishes of the majority of Venezuelans,” Chavez said.
“Today’s victory is not just for the people of Venezuela,” Chavez said, “but for the people of Latin America and the Caribbean who are struggling for their freedom.”
To the world, Chavez announced that his government seeks the stability of the country, Latin American integration, and the stability of oil markets. “This government guarantees the stability of Venezuela as no other could. This government guarantees the cooperation with the governments and people of Latin America for the integration of Latin America and the Caribbean. My government also guarantees the stability of the oil market,” Chavez said.
According to Chavez, those who voted “Si,” or YES to revoke his mandate should not feel defeated and also recognized the fact that they also waited in long lines to practice their constitutional rights and invited them to accept this as a “national victory that also includes them,” expressing his hope that the opposition will accept today’s results announced by the CNE.
Chavez said he hoped the U.S. would respect the people and the government Venezuela after this democratic victory and said mockingly that his victory is a gift for the Bush administration, “a gift that landed in the middle of the white house.”
Referring to a Venezuelan folk tale that had become the pro-Chavez campaign theme, in which the devil and a character named Florentino engage in a musical contest, Chavez said to thousands of cheering supporters who celebrated outside the presidential palace, “Florentino has won, we have defeated the devil.”
Chavez concluded by calling for a paid holiday for all Venezuelans, who had been waiting in line since yesterday morning at dawn, many of whom didn’t get to vote until well after midnight.