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The citizens of Venezuela have voted to end term limits on their nation's president and other elected officials, clearing the way for Hugo Chavez to run for office again in 2012.
While the election transpired peacefully and without major incident, the United States has expressed concern about the violence and threats that accompanied this campaign and underscored its admiration for voters who did not succumb to intimidation and cast their ballots. More challenges lie ahead, though.
The nation faces many serious problems, including inflation and rising crime rates. Oil revenues, the foundation of much government spending, are falling with the worldwide decline in oil and other commodity prices.
As President Chavez now turns his attention from the ballot box to governing, it is important that he and other officials focus on ruling democratically and addressing the issues of popular concern.
Promising to "open new horizons," he vowed after the referendum to address the crime problem and government inefficiency.
The nation remains divided over President Chavez’ leadership, however. Going forward, the United States encourages all sectors of Venezuelan society to respect the diversity of views that is the strength of a pluralistic democracy.