CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s government, known for spur-of-the-moment decisions, on Sunday created a new national holiday on Feb 2 to commemorate populist President Hugo Chavez’s taking power.
The Sunday afternoon announcement came less than 24 hours before the holiday was to begin.
The popular anti-U.S. leader, who on Monday celebrates 10 years of his self-styled socialist revolution, has changed the country’s flag, coat of arms, and moved the time zone by half an hour.
Vice President Ramon Carrizalez said on Sunday the day would declared “a day of festivity, because the people have things to celebrate and many things to defend.”
Chavez on Monday was to host friendly leaders including Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega to mark his taking power in 1999, two weeks before a vote to determine if he should be allowed to stay another decade.
The vote would amend the constitution, which he helped rewrite, to remove a provision limiting presidents to two successive terms.
The loquacious leader is famous for showing up hours late to scheduled events, talking for up to eight hours in a single sitting and making major policy announcements in off-the-cuff commentary.
Reporting by Brian Ellsworth, editing by Alan Elsner