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Chavez blasts critics for opposing constitutional changes

[JURIST] Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez [BBC profile] Friday accused his opposition of using "fascist violence" to oppose constitutional changes that would eliminate presidential term limits and augment the president's emergency powers. Earlier this month, the Venezuelan National Assembly approved [press release, in Spanish] a set of proposed amendments to the country's constitution by a 160-7 vote. The proposed amendments passed a preliminary vote [JURIST report] in the Assembly in August; all of the constitutional reforms will be subject to a two-part national referendum on December 2. Speaking to state television while attending a summit in Chile, he accused his critics of being right-wing zealots working for the benefit of the United States.

Chavez has touted the constitutional changes as necessary to advance Venezuela's socialist revolution, but Human Rights Watch has warned that the reforms would violate international law [press release] by allowing the president to suspend due process guarantees during times of emergency. Opposition politicians have accused Chavez [JURIST report] of using the constitutional reforms to consolidate his power over Venezuela. Former Venezuelan Defense Minister Raul Baduel has also spoken out against the constitutional reforms [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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