In an election held more than a thousand miles away, but one that will hit home for thousands of locals, Hugo Chavez has won reelection with 54 percent of the vote in today's presidential election in Venezuela.
The controversial leader, who has been in power for 13 years, will now rule for another six. He faced his toughest reelection bid yet against Henrique Capriles, who netted just under 45 percent of the vote.
Local news channels descended on Doral, the city with the highest percentage of Venezuelan citizens of any city in America. Many of those citizens had fled to South Florida after Chavez took power, and the cameras caught scenes of anguish and tears. It was a sharp contrast to the fireworks that illuminated Caracas tonight.
Chavez has been a self-proclaimed champion of the poor, but his economic policies have nationalized many private businesses and industries. Though his policies have lowered poverty rates, they've also increased inflation and reduced foreign investment. The murder rate remains the fourth highest in the world. Infrastructure in the country is failing. Chavez has routinely bullied and silence the free press. Human rights groups claim the country keeps dozens of political prisoners, and harasses others who dare to speak out against the government.
Chavez has also battled cancer over the past two years. While he appears to be in remission now (that's the official word anyway), some had previously questioned whether he would actually live to see this day.
Chavez took to Twitter after the official results were announced, and wrote in Spanish, "Thank God! Thanks to All!!"
In his victory speech, he acknowledged the heavy opposition he faced in at the polls.
"I extend from here my recognition of all who voted against us, recognition of their democratic weight," Chavez said. "(I am) stretching out my hands and heart on our behalf because we are brothers in Bolivar's homeland."
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