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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Wins Again

Hugo Chavez was re-elected as President of Venezuela on Sunday, winning more than 54 percent of the vote.

Chavez waves flag to supporters. Photo Courtesy Fernando Llano, AP
Chavez waves flag to supporters. Photo Courtesy Fernando Llano, AP
Venezualan President Hugo Chavez was re-elected to a six-year term Sunday in the socialist leader's closest race yet. Chavez won more than 54 percent of the vote while his opponent, former state governor Henrique Capriles, took in 45 percent.

Fireworks exploded over Caracas, the nation's capital, as Chavez waved his country's flag from the presidential palace's balcony. "The revolution has triumphed!" Chavez announced to the crowds below.

Chavez promised his supporters a continued push for socialism in his upcoming term. He has been credited with spreading the nation's oil weath to the poor through public housing, free medical care, and other government programs. Venezuela has the largest known oil reserves of any country in the world.

Voter turnout was over 81 percent, as many Venezuelans lined up for the polls several hours before dawn.

A victory by Chavez's opponent Capriles would have marked an abrupt change in Venezuelan policy. The 40-year-old contender aimed for a boost to the country's private economy, reduction in violent crimes, and a drastic change in foreign policy.

Under Chavez, Venezuela has strengthened oil alliances with fellow socialist countries like Cuba.

Chavez largely avoided talk of his fight with cancer during the election. He has undergone surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to remove tumors since June 2011.

"Despite his illness," said Michael Shifter, president of the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue think tank. "I still think he retains a large emotional connection with a lot of Venezuelans that I think were not prepared to vote against him."

Supporters lined the streets and cheered, welcoming another term for President Hugo Chavez.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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