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Chavez Supporters Rally In Midtown Ahead Of Venezuelan Election

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TWC News: Chavez Supporters Rally In Midtown Ahead Of Venezuelan Election
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As Venezuelans head to the polls to vote on changes to their constitution, supporters and protesters of President Hugo Chavez rally here in Midtown.

If approved, the constitutional changes would expand Chavez' power and allow him to potentially stay in office for decades.

Outside the Venezuelan Consulate in Manhattan, some say the U.S. should follow Venezuela's lead. Others say the referendum would turn the country into a dictatorship.

"Some of the basic needs, such as health care, free education, which are in scarcity here in the United States, because of the Bolivarian revolution, that has become accessible to the people of Venezuela,” said a supporter.

“Stuff that they're fighting for in Venezuela [is] the stuff that we need here: free health care, more jobs, opportunities for young people,” added another.

“They are just here because Chavez is against Bush, and that's the only reason they are here,” countered anti-Chavez demonstrator. “They don't know what they're supporting. They don't know that this will give Chavez total power.”

“Venezuelans don't support his project. It's a dictatorship,” added another. “We don't support dictatorships."

Today's rally follows a march yesterday condemning American media coverage of the referendum vote.

Demonstrators pointed the finger at different media outlets, especially CNN.

"They had a picture of Chavez with a sign that said, ÎWho killed him?’ And they claim it was a mistake. They said it was a mistake. You know what, that is a threat,” said demonstrator Monica Ruiz of Act Now to Stop War and End Racism. “That is a threat to Chavez, and that is the role that the U.S. media plays. And we're here to tell them that they're not going to get away with it."

In a statement, CNN called the accusations baseless and said that it is committed to covering the situation in Venezuela fairly and objectively.

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