"The referendum will be held and the amendment will be approved. Nobody will be able to avoid it. Whatever the people decide will be implemented. It is the will of the nation that will prevail for sure and forever"
Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez said that referendums are "the core" of the revolutionary process and therefore nothing will prevent his government from holding a referendum next February on his proposed constitutional amendment to establish endless presidential reelection.
"The referendum will be held and the amendment will be approved. Nobody will be able to avoid it. Whatever the people decide will be implemented. It is the will of the nation that will prevail for sure and forever," said the ruler during the year-end greeting ceremony of the military garrisons that took place at the Basic School of the National Armed Forces in Maracay, Aragua State, 50 miles west of Caracas.
Chávez, dressed in military attire and wearing the symbols of Commander in Chief of the Venezuelan Armed Forces, spoke to the troops for two and a half hours.
The Venezuelan leader criticized again Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, who described the proposed amendment as unconstitutional.
"He should measure his words because he knows he is lying. If he says he does not agree with the amendment, "we welcome dissent!" But he is trying to manipulate (public opinion ahead of the vote) and this is a serious sin," Chávez said.
At the same time, the Venezuelan ruler blamed the opposition for refusing to ask once again Venezuelans whether they accept or not that the incumbent president runs for reelection as often as he or she likes.
Translated by Gerardo Cárdenas
As late as Tuesday, February 25, there was some visible response from Gabriela Ramírez's office. Representatives of the Office of the Ombudswoman would visit independent human rights watch groups to find what happened in connection with repression of protests. That day, they visited NGO Provea. The next day, they met with the attorneys of NGO Venezuelan Criminal Forum. They pursued specific data because -they argued- no claims of human rights violations of demonstrators had been filed with the Office of the Ombudswoman.