CARACAS, Wednesday April 01, 2009 | Update
The year started with electioneering. The Constitution was again the target of the debate. This time, the government campaign for the new referendum focused on unlimited reelection of all elected public offices and a large amount of money spent in propaganda. President Hugo Chávez and his followers made it. Days after celebrating the triumph, Chávez conceded that hard times were coming. Reference was made to the economic crisis and its unavoidable effects on the country
The "people's balcony," at Miraflores presidential palace, welcome hundred followers of an euphoric President Chávez who greeted the victory of the Yes vote in a recent referendum on the amendment to the Constitution File Photo: Andrés Mata Foundation / Gustavo Bandres
"The Yes vote won," yelled an enthusiast President Hugo Chávez from the "people's balcony," on Sunday night, February 15th, after learning of the referendum results favoring him. The voting had been called by the National Electoral Council to grant or deny an amendment to the Constitution which would allow for unlimited reelection of all elected public incumbencies.
In an uneven battle, filled with claims about the pro-government bloc having the odds stacked on its behalf for using public monies to promote the Yes vote, opposition sectors, headed by political leaders who had won the recent local election and backed by a refreshed student movement, took the streets with "No means no" as their motto. Reference was made to a prior referendum held on December 2nd, 2007, where the "No" vote won against a draft constitutional reform for similar purposes.
The opposition managed to gather more than five million voters. They did not win, but the number was enough to think about the feasibility of a political frame able to meet the society requirements.
At the end of the first quarter, it seems that this will be a dire year in the economic field.
Upon his political success from the vote favoring the amendment, the government will have to face the global financial crisis with immediate aftereffects on oil prices. The FY 2009 budget was estimated at USD 60 a barrel. Thus far this year, oil prices have not gone beyond USD 40.
Nor was the political success internationally hailed. Rather, the results were treated with skepticism and only friendly governments, those who enjoy energy-related agreements, warmly congratulated the Venezuelan government.
Overseas, on January 20th, Barack Obama's American dream came true. He took control of the White House and also brought the Internet there. His purpose is to use it to meet the needs of the US people, who are expecting measures intended to mitigate the impact of an economic crisis resulting in record high unemployment rates and market slowdown.
Obama, as every beginner, is enjoying his first 100 days in office. While the actions such as the shutdown of Guántanamo naval base are regarded as positive, the contents of his proposal have not been fully developed.
Cuba also hinted some changes by "releasing" Vice-President Carlos Lage and Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque from their positions. However, Raúl Castro has not removed the restrictions imposed by his brother Fidel.
As for sports, in an atmosphere of great expectation on the World Baseball Classic, Venezuelan fans rejoiced to see their team Tigres de Aragua winning the Caribbean Series held in the Mexican city of Mexicali.
5.- Renewed status
6.- Radio Capital
9.- Cyber Radio
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