Chavez Wants to Postpone Valentine's Day Until After Vote, Promises 'Week of Love'

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?"