Dear Democracy Now! Visitor: We are an independent, ad-free daily news program that serves millions of viewers and listeners each month. In this US election year, Democracy Now! is more important than ever. For 20 years, we’ve put a spotlight on corporate and government abuses of power. We lift up the stories of ordinary people working to make change in extraordinary times. We do all of this with just a fraction of the budget and staff of a commercial news show. We do it without ads, corporate sponsorship or government funding. How is this possible? Only with your support. A generous funder will match your donation dollar for dollar if you donate right now. That means when you give $10, your donation will be worth $20. Pretty exciting, right? So, if you've been waiting to make your contribution to Democracy Now!, today is your day. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you every day.

Your Donation: $

The Supreme Court of Venezuela Suspends a Referendum On President Hugo Chavez & the Government Halts Foreign Currency Trading: We Go to Caracas

January 23, 2003

The Supreme Court of Venezuela yesterday indefinitely postponed a nationwide referendum scheduled for next month on whether embattled President Hugo Chavez should resign.

The ruling has stunned opposition leaders. The referendum would have been non-binding, but they had hoped a resounding defeat would increase political pressure on Chavez to step down.

Also yesterday, the government closed the markets for five days, hoping to stem the exodus of capital and prevent its crippled currency from falling further. US-owned multinational corporations including Microsoft and Ford have begun to close local offices and pull people out of the country.

Protests both for and against Chavez continue. On Monday, one person died and more than 20 were injured in protests. More protests are scheduled for today, an especially symbolic day for Venezuelans. On January 23, 1958, a popular uprising backed by the military forced the dictator General Perez Jimenez to flee the country. Since then the day has been celebrated almost like Independence Day is celebrated here in the U.S.

The country’s crisis was precipitated by a management lock out that crippled the petroleum industry and shuttered supermarkets and malls in December and early January. Most businesses are open now, though, and the effort to topple Chavez appears to have failed.


  • Deepa Fernandes, host of Free Speech Radio News who has been in Caracas for the last three weeks.
  • Jennifer McCoy, director of the Americas Program at the Carter Center and Professor of Political Science at Georgia State University in Atlanta. She has just returned from Venezuela where she was part of former President Carter’s delegation to Venezuela which met with President Chavez and Opposition Leaders in an effort to negotiate a resolution to the conflict

There are no ads for laundry detergent or breakfast cereal on the Venezuelan private TV channels. Just one attack ad after another after another, all blaming Chavez for the country’s ills.


  • Anti-Chavez ad airing in Venezuela

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.