Caracas, Venezuela — Tens of thousands of protesters marched in Caracas on Saturday to oppose a constitutional amendment that could allow President Hugo Chavez to run for re-election indefinitely.
Marchers waved the nation’s flag and peered through glasses framed by the word “No” to encourage people to vote against ending term limits for all elected officials in a Feb. 15 referendum backed by Venezuela’s socialist leader.
“Everything’s gotten worse,” said Yraiber Davila, a 24-year-old mechanical engineer who complained of rampant crime, a lack of government services and the difficulty of buying a house with annual inflation running at 31 percent in Caracas.
“I have a 10-year-old daughter and she’s never seen another president,” Davila said.
One protester carried a sign depicting Chavez as TV tough-guy Mr. T — complete with a Mohawk hairstyle and long, feathery earrings — beneath the phrase: “Indefinite Aggression.”
Marchers chanted and wore emblems saying “No is no,” a reference to a failed 2007 referendum that would have scrapped term limits and expanded Chavez’s power. Chavez was first elected in 1998, and is barred under the current constitution from running again when his term expires in 2012.
Polls show Chavez gaining momentum before the vote.