After it was officially announced that the "yes" vote had won the February 15 referendum on a constitutional amendment that would remove limits on the number of times any elected official could stand in elections for public office with 54.4% of the vote, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez delivered a speech from the balcony of the Miraflores Presidential Palace, his two daughters beside him. The victory removes the current two-term limit will allow Chavez to stand in the presidential election when his current term finishes at the end of 2012.
He spent most of the speech talking about what problems need to be struggled against and what needs to be done next.
Celebrating, Chavez said, "Truth has won against lies, and the dignity of the people against those who disown the homeland … those who try to return Venezuela to … the Fourth Republic, have failed today and will always fail."
However, he included the opposition in the victory, saying the day was historical, as for the first time the people were consulted about such an issue. "It's a victory for Venezuela and they are part of Venezuela."
Chavez also saw the result as a boost for the socialist project and invited the people to strengthen their effort towards the construction of true socialism.
"This path doesn't have any other name, this path is called socialism, I want to ratify my commitment to socialism and I want to invite everyone to strengthen the march towards the construction of … socialist democracy."
The president encouraged supporters to again go on a push with the "3R" campaign of "Revision, Rectification, and revolutionary Re-launch".
Chavez announced 2008 to be a year of the 3Rs at the start of last year. He had emphasised the need to review and re-evaluate everything in order to improve general administration and day-to-day governing.
"Government, party and people, I'd like us to re-take, with all our strength, in all areas of the government, that policy of the 3Rs…from this exact moment."
He said he thought such a policy would enable the government to achieve, in the upcoming "four years that remain, of this constitutional period of the government, the highest amount of efficiency in public management and the push for the National Simon Bolivar Project."
The National Simon Bolivar Project is the government's overall plan for the rest of this presidential term, which lasts until early 2013.
He also committed himself and the government to a "battle that needs to be done with more intensity and effort and above all with more results that combat the insecurity in the streets of the people, the barrios, the suburbs, in the cities."
He highlighted other issues against which the struggle needs to be intensified, "the struggle against corruption and its vile ways, the struggle against insecurity, the struggle against wastefulness, the struggle against bureaucracy and inefficiency."
"I want us to dedicate ourselves completely in the struggle against all these problems that are so harmful to the health of the people, to the health of the government and to the health of the Republic."
Chavez said the republic needs truly new institutions, with truly new men and women, and that it was also necessary to strengthen the five branches of the state: the executive branch, the legislative branch, judicial branch, citizen (or prosecutorial) branch, and electoral branch.
He then congratulated the people for their participation in the campaign and said it was "a big effort and a big victory."
"Unless god stipulates something else, unless the people stipulate something else, this soldier will be a candidate for the presidency of the Republic for 2013-2019," he said.
Chavez declared his life at the service of the people, saying, "On this road now, from today, we'll continue … constructing the homeland. On this road I devote myself and I will be consumed in this for the rest of what remains of my life, I swear it, I promise it, in front of the people and in front of my children and grandchildren."
However, he also suggested that the following week be a "week of love", that everyone enjoy it with happiness and moderation, as a deserved rest after all the political activity. It will be a week free of political themes, and to make up for the Day of Love (Valentine's Day) on February 14, which most would have spent in electoral campaign.
Celebrations and messages of congratulations
Chavez announced from the balcony that the first message he had received was from Fidel Castro, revolutionary leader of Cuba, just 10 minutes after the official results were broadcast.
"Dear Hugo, congratulations to you and your people for a victory that for its magnitude is impossible to measure," Fidel had written.
Later, Evo Morales, president of Bolivia and the government of Spain also congratulated Chavez for the results.
Outside the presidential palace, along Avenue Urdenata, and filling up multiple other roads across Caracas, on hearing the news, people came out into the streets to listen to Chavez and to celebrate.
Likewise, around the country in main and local plazas, people waved red flags, danced, played drums, chanted political slogans and set off fireworks. Spontaneous motorcades of honking cars and motorbikes paraded through the streets.
[Reprinted from Venezuela Analysis