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Hugo Chávez and the national assembly have initiated a second attempt, by referendum, to amend the Venezuelan constitution so Chávez can run for re-election in 2012. A similar referendum was narrowly defeated in December of 2007, the only defeat Chávez has endured in eleven trips to the polls since he was elected in 1998. So if Venezuela´s revolution is about empowering the grassroots, then why is it important that Chávez stay on as leader? The Real News spoke to Miguel Tinker Salas by phone from Venezuela to get his analysis.

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Miguel Tinker Salas is a professor of History and Latin American studies at Pomona College in Claremont, California. He is co-author of Venezuela: Hugo Chavez and the Decline of an Exceptional Democracy and author of Under the Shadow of the Eagles and The Enduring Legacy: Oil, Culture, and Society in Venezuela. His latest book is Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know.