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Marchers oppose bid by Chavez to end term limits

February 08, 2009|Associated Press

CARACAS, VENEZUELA — Tens of thousands of protesters marched in Caracas on Saturday to oppose a constitutional amendment that could allow President Hugo Chavez to run for reelection indefinitely.

Marchers waved the nation's flag and peered through glasses framed by the word "No" to encourage people to vote against ending term limits for all elected officials in a Feb. 15 referendum backed by Venezuela's socialist president.

One protester carried a sign depicting Chavez as TV tough guy Mr. T -- complete with a Mohawk haircut and long, feathery earrings -- beneath the phrase, "Indefinite Aggression."

Marchers chanted and wore emblems saying, "No is no," a reference to a failed 2007 referendum that would have scrapped term limits and expanded Chavez's power. Chavez was first elected in 1998 and is barred under the constitution from running again when his term expires in 2012.

Polls show Chavez gaining momentum before the vote.

Support for the amendment stood at 51% in January, up from 38% a month earlier, the polling firm Datanalisis reported. The January poll of 1,300 likely voters had a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.

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