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Hugo Chávez wins Venezuelan presidential election

Chávez, who has led Venezuela for nearly 14 years, won 54.42 percent of the vote against former Miranda Gov. Henrique Capriles last night.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez holds the national flag while celebrating from a balcony at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas October 7. Venezuela's socialist President Chavez won re-election in Sunday's vote with 54 percent of the ballot to beat opposition challenger Henrique Capriles.

Tomas Bravo/Reuters

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President Hugo Chávez - the former soldier and Latin American socialist who has led this nation for almost 14 years - won an additional six-year term Sunday night.

Chávez won 54.42 percent of the vote against former Miranda Gov. Henrique Capriles, the National Election Council, or CNE, reported.

As the results were announced the skies of Caracas lighted up with red fireworks and crowds began to gather at the Miraflores presidential palace.

Authorities said turnout for the vote was 80.94 percent - a decades-long record for this oil-rich nation.

"We have written another brilliant page in our democratic history," CNE President Tibisay Lucena said.

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The results capped a day where many of the country's 19 million registered voters swarmed the polls in a process that was largely free of violence despite the incendiary rhetoric that marked the race.

Chávez, 58, has been in power since 1999 and used the nation's oil wealth to promote socialist reforms and welfare programs that have made him a hero to the poor. He said he would use the additional six years to deepen his "21st Century Socialism" to build more public housing, end unemployment and create 10 new public universities.


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