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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Wins Re-Election Bid

A Chavez electoral poster in CaracasA Chavez electoral poster in Caracas
A Chavez electoral poster in Caracas
A Chavez electoral poster in Caracas
Brian Padden
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez won his re-election bid Sunday with 54 percent of the vote, defeating former state governor Henrique Capriles.

National Electoral Council President Tibisay Lucena announced late Sunday that President Chavez won a third six-year term of office.

She said that candidate Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias won 54.52 percent of the votes. Henrique Capriles won 44.97 percent of the votes.

Polling results also indicate 81 percent of the 19 million registered voters cast ballots, making this one of the largest election turnouts in years.

It was a major victory for the 58-year-old president who staged a remarkable comeback from cancer this year.

Huge celebration in Caracas

After the announcement, President Chavez's supporters danced in the streets as fireworks lit up the sky. Javier Medina says he is celebrating because Mr. Chavez belongs to his people, the poor and the working class. He says Mr. Chavez is the president of the poor, not president of the rich.

The mood at the opposition's headquarters was somber. Capriles conceded the election and sent his congratulations to Mr. Chavez, but he also asked that the president take into consideration the views of all the people when governing.

He says there is a country that sees two visions and that to be a good president means to work for all Venezuelans, to work for the solution of all Venezuelans' problems.

The election, while a victory for Mr. Chavez, reinforces the view that Venezuela is deeply divided between those who support Mr. Chavez's brand of socialism and fiery anti-American rhetoric, and supporters of Capriles who want free-market solutions to economic problems and less confrontation with the United States.

While Mr. Chavez has used Venezuela's vast oil wealth to fund free housing and medical programs for the poor, the country is also experiencing slow economic growth, high inflation and food shortages.

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