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Focus: Venezuela elections
Students battle over Venezuela vote
Two young Venezuelans tell Al Jazeera their views on Chavez's bid to remain in power.
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2009 03:50 GMT

Two students at the Central University of Venezuela tell Al Jazeera how they will be voting in the referendum on whether Hugo Chavez should be allowed to run for the presidency again.

Johnseon Romero, 23, Business studies and management student. Voting 'Yes'.

Johnseon Romero admires Chavez for
his work in support of the poor
Hugo Chavez has always seemed like a man who wanted to work for the poor majority but the first time I was really inspired by him was during 2002 and 2003.

Despite the opposition, which controlled a lot of the economy and was very powerful at that time, he stuck to his position to work for the poor.

The majority of people at the university are against Chavez so I have done most of my work in the community in Petare district where I live and at other universities.

There are some students who are against Chavez who have serious positions and I can have a dialogue with but there are others who are extremists and I don't debate them.

In Petare I have been going door-to-door and trying to convince people to vote "yes" by speaking to them and giving them literature.

Venezuela needs more years of Chavez because the government needs more than 10 years to consolidate the social and economic changes they have made.

The government has helped many people who were excluded from education.

We also need Chavez's leadership and if the opposition eliminates this possibility they will reverse all the achievements he has made so far.

Alexis Escobar, 23, International affairs student. Voting 'No'.

Alexis Escobar believes government workers are afraid to vote against Chavez
"No" means that Chavez won't be able to stay in power for another six years [after 2013].

I have seen how civil rights have been affected negatively during the years he has been in power.

Now you cannot work for the government unless you share their ideology.

People who work for the government are scared to vote against Chavez and I see that every day.

Some people are scared they could lose their jobs.

We have been carrying out demonstrations in the streets, but sometimes we haven't been given permission so we have demonstrated on the university campus itself.

We also plan to monitor the election process itself by having people attend polling stations and report any irregularities they see.

And we have set up a central call centre to report this information to.

The social programmes that the governments have been executing - they would continue under the opposition, in fact we could improve them and give more social benefits to the poor.

The government is making people think that the opposition would get rid of them.

I come from a town that is lower-middle class and the social programmes work in my town but they are not doing what they are supposed to - I would like to get them back on track to help the poor.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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