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VENEZUELA: Indigenous peoples back Chavez

Indigenous groups at the Second Continental Summit of Indigenous Peoples in Quito, Ecuador, on July 24 pledged their support of President Hugo Chavez, who later won a controvesial national recall vote on August 15. The groups promised to back Chavez in the event of a coup. Indigenous leaders say that Chavez's leadership has granted indigenous people greater agency. Chavez calls himself "negro y indio" (black and Indian) — one of his grandmothers was Pume. In what he calls his "Bolivarian Revolution," Chavez plans to push ahead with increased services and social projects for the country's lower-class communities. One and a half percent of the 23 million people living in Venezuela are indigenous. The 1999 constitution recognizes not only the right of indigenous people to vote, but also to be represented in the National Assembly.