Venezuela opposition marches against Chavez reform

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CARACAS, Nov 10 (Reuters) Hundreds of Venezuelan opposition sympathizers today marched peacefully in Caracas to protest President Hugo Chavez's constitutional reform proposal after several violent demonstrations in recent days.

At least seven people have been shot over the last week in clashes sparked by the leftist leader's plan to lift presidential term limits as part of a broad constitutional overhaul meant to create a socialist state in the OPEC nation.

''We all have to unite against violence and against the reform,'' shouted student leader Freddy Guevara from a stage set up for the event.

The small demonstration was heavily guarded by police officers.

The recent clashes have boosted concerns that violence could mar the upcoming December 2 referendum to approve the constitutional changes. Pollsters say Chavez is likely to win the vote.

The opposition calls the reform an authoritarian project that would concentrate power in Chavez's hands. His supporters say changes such as a reduced workday and expanded social security benefits will benefit the poor.

Chavez, the leading voice of resurgent leftist politics in Latin America, is still widely popular in Venezuela for spending the nation's surging revenue on social programmes.

Reuters SBA VP0310

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