Today’s big story: Venezuela holds the state governor elections, and Chavez’s candidates lost in Caracas, Zulia, Miranda
The opposition’s wins today are a blow to Chavez’s drive to centralize control of the oil-exporting country. While the president remains popular among poor voters, accelerating inflation, rising crime and a plunge in oil prices have caused voters to question his socialist political agenda.
Last year voters rejected his proposal to eliminate presidential term limits, and opposition parties expect Chavez to try make a second run at changing rules that will force him to step down in 2013.
Today’s wins for the opposition in a handful of the country’s most populous states and its largest city set the stage for increased conflict with the president. Opposition parties have been marginalized since Chavez’s coalition nearly swept regional elections in 2004 and won almost every seat in the National Assembly in 2005.
During the election campaign this year, Chavez threatened to suspend funding for development projects where opposition candidates win.
Why did he lose Caracas? Crime:
Ledezma said he’ll make crime reduction a priority as mayor of greater Caracas. Caracas’s homicide rate jumped to 130 per 100,000 people last year, a 47 percent increase from 2005, according to government data compiled by the Central University of Venezuela’s Center for Peace.
Chavez lost the most populous states (link in Spanish).
Analysis by Venezuela News and Views, The Devil’s Excrement, Simon Romero, and Juan Forero. Update, also Hugo Chavez’s XXI century socialist revolution on the wane
I’ll be talking about this in today’s podcast at 10AM Eastern. You can listen to the podcast here.
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This week’s podcasts and posts:
FrontLine on Chavez
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Colombian tailor hits the big time with bulletproof clothing; Guardian blames Dick Cheney.
APEC, Lula’s terrorist chief of staff, and the Venezuelan governor elections: 15 Minutes on Latin America
Today at 10AM Eastern: Humberto Fontova
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NYT: Pass the Colombian Trade Pact