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Chavez Not Declaring Emergency

May 10, 2001

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ President Hugo Chavez denied on Thursday that he was preparing to declare a state of emergency to combat corruption and rising crime.

Chavez said in a statement released that he has not said anything about ``declaring a state of emergency.″

On Tuesday, Defense Minister Jose Vicente Rangel told reporters the president was considering such a declaration for ``social or economic reasons ... that have to do with corruption and crime.″

Chavez, a former paratrooper who rose to fame by leading a failed coup in 1992, has rewritten the constitution and stacked congress, the supreme court and state governments with allies through a series of elections and referendums.

He says his political reforms ousted a corrupt and elitist political class and paved the way for a ``social revolution″ to lift millions of Venezuelans out of poverty and promote patriotism.

Popular with Venezuela’s poor, Chavez still enjoys an approval rating of more than 60 percent but recent polls show Venezuelans are unsatisfied with his government’s efforts to combat rising crime and reduce unemployment, which is 14 percent.

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