CARACAS, Venezuela – Cancel the candlelight and return the roses. President Hugo Chavez wants Venezuelans to postpone Valentine's Day until after a referendum Sunday.
In return, Chavez promises a "week of love" beginning the next day -- assuming he wins the vote, which would let public officials run for re-election as many times as they want.
"We're going to be in battle," Chavez said. "After achieving our great victory, the week of love begins."
Chavez had already put a damper on Valentine's Day with a dry law that took effect Friday afternoon, barring stores, restaurants and bars from selling alcohol.
Manuel Diaz, a 36-year-old businessman, said that prompted him to cancel plans for a romantic dinner with his girlfriend of two years.
"You should be sharing with your partner, going to eat at a restaurant, and then, well..." he said, trailing off.
Some Chavez supporters said the appeal is sensible, and will allow people to focus on the vote.
"We need a dry law, so we all have our wits about us," said Carmen Teresa Morejon, 63, who planned a nice dinner at home Saturday with her family.
In any case, Chavez argues his plan is a good deal for his people.
"I'm giving you a week in exchange for a day," he said. "That's not bad, is it?"