Venezuela's electoral council says President Hugo Chavez has won re-election, defeating challenger Henrique Capriles.
The 58-year-old Chavez took 54.42 per cent of the vote, with 90 per cent of the ballots counted, to 44.97 per cent for young opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, official results showed on Sunday.
Jubilant supporters poured onto the streets of Caracas to celebrate the victory of a man who has near-Messianic status among Venezuela's poor, and there was relief too among leftist allies around the region - from Cuba to Bolivia - who rely on his oil-financed generosity.
"I'm celebrating with a big heart," said Mary Reina, a 62-year-old Chavez supporter who lives in the hillside slum
where the president cast his vote. "Chavez is the hope of the people and of Latin America."
The mood was grim at Capriles' campaign headquarters, where opposition supporters broke into tears. The opposition will now have to regroup quickly for state elections in December.
It was Chavez's third re-election victory in nearly 14 years in office. He who won 62 per cent of the vote in the 2006 election.
The victory gives Chavez another six-year term to cement his legacy and press more forcefully for a transition to socialism in the country with the world's largest proven oil reserves.