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Venezuelans Demand Vote

October 11, 2002|From Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela — About 1 million Venezuelans marched here Thursday to demand that President Hugo Chavez call early elections or a referendum on his rule--threatening a general strike if he didn't do so by Wednesday.

Venezuela's biggest labor and business groups responded to the clamor immediately, announcing an Oct. 21 strike if Chavez didn't meet Wednesday's deadline.

Chavez, whose term ends in 2007, will respond to the threat during a rally Sunday, said Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel.

Organizers and Caracas Fire Chief Rodolfo Briceno estimated that 1 million people attended the demonstration in the capital, the largest since troops and Chavez supporters confronted an opposition march on the presidential palace April 11.

Shooting that day killed at least 14 people and prompted a two-day military coup before loyalist troops restored Chavez to power.

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