Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez won yet another re-election, defeating Henrique Capriles and gaining six more years to cement his legacy.

With about 90 per cent of the votes counted, Mr. Chavez had more than 54 per cent to Mr. Capriles’ 45 per cent. Eighty-one per cent of the nearly 19 million registered voters cast ballots — one of the largest turnouts in years — National Electoral Council president Tibisay Lucena said.

It was Mr. Chavez’s third re-election in nearly 14 years in office, though by a smaller margin than in 2006 — when he polled 63 per cent.

Fireworks exploded in downtown Caracas and Mr. Chavez’s supporters celebrated.Mr. Capriles, a youthful state governor, became a strong challenger after winning a February primary.

Mixed reaction

Latin America’s leftist leaders on Monday welcomed the re-election of their veteran comrade President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, while the United States and Europe expressed caution.

President Raul Castro of Cuba cheered Mr. Chavez’s “historic triumph” in Venezuela’s presidential elections. “It is not just a victory for the people of Venezuela. It is a victory for the Bolivarian alliance and all of Latin America,” said Bolivia’s Evo Morales. His words were echoed by Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa, another leftist and key regional ally. More congratulations came from Argentine President Cristina Kirchner and Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes.

The United States did not hide its disappointment, voicing the hope that Mr. Chavez would respect the views of Venezuela’s defeated opposition.

China extended its congratulations to Mr. Chavez and vowed to bring relations between the economic partners to a “new high”.

Thousands of Venezuelans living in the southern United States were distraught after their political nemesis won re-election.

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