And democracy wins, by a hair

From Venezuela, apparently just enough voters looked into the abyss and were afraid:

Venezuelans, by the slimmest of margins, rejected a constitutional referendum that would have allowed President Hugo Chavez to seek re-election indefinitely and tightened socialism’s grip on the oil-rich Latin American nation.

By 51 percent to 49 percent, voters shot down a referendum that included 69 proposed amendments to the 1999 constitution, according to Monday reports from the National Electoral Council. In all, 9 million of Venezuela’s 16 million eligible voters went to the polls.

“Don’t feel sad. Don’t feel burdened,” Chavez told supporters after the results were announced.

In Washington, the White House applauded the vote.

“We congratulate the people of Venezuela on their vote and their continued desire to live in freedom and democracy,” said National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

Thousands of Venezuelans gathered in the streets of Caracas, many of them university students who worked to defeat the measure, and burst into singing their country’s national anthem upon hearing the news.

Chavez, of course, has proven himself crazy like a fox, so one can only wonder what his next step will be.

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