Chavez victory brings cheers and tears


Hugo Chavez supporters poured into the streets of Caracas, cheering, dancing and setting off fireworks after their socialist hero won a new term as president.
But the mood was somber at the headquarters of opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, where the prospect of another six years under the polarizing president brought tears and heartbreak.
Thousands of people massed in front for the Miraflores presidential palace following the results of Sunday’s election gave Chavez a clear victory after almost 14 years in power.
“The revolution is unstoppable,” said Maria Bermudez, a teacher from the northern state of Guarico wearing a red shirt, the trademark colors of Chavez supporters. “Chavez never lost my vote to continue the revolution.”
A red sea of Chavez supporters waved Venezuela’s yellow, blue and red flag as they waited for the president to speak to them from the balcony of Miraflores.
The rumors of a Chavez victory had already filtered in social media before the official results were announced. Supporters had gathered around cars to listen to the National Electoral Council officially declare Chavez the winner.
“How could we not thank him? How could we not be with the revolution?” asked 32-year-old government worker Alfredo Salcedo, who was holding his son’s hand.
“Look, the president has given lots of opportunities to people. I will continue with the president as long as God gives him life and health,” he said, referring to the president’s battle with cancer.
When Chavez appeared on the palace balcony, exulting “Viva Venezuela!”, the throngs erupted with chants of “ooh, aah, Chavez won’t go!” and “Chavez, friend, the people are with you!”
While Chavez has developed a devout following, the former paratrooper has alienated a good part of the population.
Chavez won 54.66 percent of the ballots but 44.73 percent voted for Capriles, the opposition’s best score against the president, highlighting the fractured nature of the South American nation.
The result drew gasps of disbelief Capriles supporters who were convinced that the former state governor could give them their elusive victory.
“I can’t believe it,” said Andres Marcano, 19, who was among the Capriles supporters gathered outside the opposition’s campaign headquarters. “I don’t know what I’ll do with my life. This country has no future.”
“I am disappointed, devastated,” said Daniela Torrealba, 33, who wore a necklace with the Capriles campaign slogan “There is a path” and the same baseball cap in Venezuela’s colors worn by the candidate.
“I don’t understand,” the health worker said.
But some found comfort in Capriles’s promise to continue serving Venezuela, noting that he was backed by 6.3 million voters in the election compared to 7.7 million for Chavez.
“I’m disappointed but not defeated,” said Rosana Gonzalez, a 25-year-old student. “I continue to believe in his project for the country.”