Hugo Chavez foes claim symbolic victories in Venezuela


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The Times’ Chris Kraul reports:

Despite losing most races, opponents of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez claimed symbolic victories in Sunday’s elections, saying the capture of Caracas City Hall and governorships of the nation’s three most populous states will lessen Chavez’s chances of abolishing term limits. At a news conference Monday, Chavez, for his part, said the balloting, in which his candidates swept a clear majority of governorships, was a ‘victory for the revolution.’ He announced that his allies won 265 mayoral races, or 81%, versus 62 contests won by opposition candidates. Controversy swirled in Barinas state, where Chavez’s brother Adan was declared the winner of the governor’s race by the National Electoral Council, although his opponent, Julio Cesar Reyes, said thousands of Barinas votes remained unaccounted for. Reyes urged his followers to ‘stay in the streets’ to contest the election, whose results showed Adan Chavez ahead by 15,000 votes.

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--Deborah Bonello in Mexico City

Photo: Zulia Gov. Manuel Rosales, left, celebrates with Gov.-elect Pablo Perez in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Rosales was elected Maracaibo’s mayor. Credit: Reinaldo D’Santiago / Associated Press