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Venezuelan General Predicts Defeat for Chavez in Referendum Vote

Former Venezuelan Defense Minister Raul Isaias Baduel is predicting that the Venezuelan people will vote next month against proposed constitutional changes that would greatly expand President Hugo Chavez's power.

General Baduel made his comments in an exclusive interview Friday with VOA. Baduel said he is a fervent believer in democracy because he said that is the greatest will of the Venezuelan people and that it is decreed in his nation's constitution.

Venezuelans vote on the 69 proposed reforms in a December 2 referendum. Baduel has urged voters to reject the changes, saying they would amount to a coup d'etat by President Chavez.

The proposals include eliminating presidential term limits and establishing socialist reforms. Also among them are proposals to give authorities sweeping powers if a national emergency is declared, including detention without charges and controls on the news media.

The plan has been condemned by Venezuela's opposition parties, human rights groups and the Roman Catholic Church.