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Chavez says new phase of revolution starts in Venezuela

RIA Novosti

03/02/2009 18:03 MOSCOW, February 3 (RIA Novosti) - Marking 10 years as Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez said the country has entered a third phase of his "Bolivarian Revolution," local media reported on Tuesday.

A former army paratrooper who styles himself the builder of "21st-century socialism," Chavez summed up the results of the previous phases of the revolution - the first in 1999-2006 and the second in 2007-2009 - and announced the beginning of a new one.

"These 10 years could be characterized by three words: revolution, independence and socialism," Chavez said. "The second phase is coming to its end and the third cycle of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela is beginning."

Chavez, 54, who declared February 2 a national holiday to celebrate his milestone as leader, said the new phase could last for another decade until February 2019.

The oil-rich country nation is due to hold a referendum on February 15 as Chavez pushes to remove presidential term limits from the Venezuelan constitution. Chavez's second term ends in 2012 but he says he needs more time to complete the third phase of the revolution.

Chavez wants to change the wording of the country's constitution from "the president may be reelected only once" to simply "the president may be reelected" before his current term ends. More than 50% of voters rejected a similar proposal as part of a package of constitutional amendments in a referendum in December 2007.

The Venezuelan leader, who swore that he would put oil to work to realize Simon Bolivar's dream of consolidating the countries of Latin America, has pledged to continue "deepening the socialist revolution" and "fighting against poverty, corruption and crime."

The festivities on Monday were attended by Latin American leaders in Venezuela to participate in a summit of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), an international cooperation organization in Latin America and the Caribbean, and Petrocaribe, a Caribbean oil alliance.

Chavez invited them to "gather in the same place in 10 years to mark the end of the third cycle of the Bolivarian Revolution."

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