Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been consolidating power for years, but his latest drive has been stymied—for now. He had sought changes in his country's constitution that would have afforded him virtual permanent rule for life, but the Venezuelan citizenry rejected his wishes by a vote of 51 to 49 percent. However, he has promised to keep pushing these changes until they do pass!
Chavez is known for his outrageous insults to the American president. Amid all the presidential rhetoric, this Latin nation is suffering widespread shortages in basics like sugar and milk. Chavez' power play has echoes of Fidel Castro's long-reigning Cuban dictatorship. Regrettably, Chavez is using his country's newfound oil wealth to subsidize left-leaning politicians, movements and governments in South America —threatening to undermine progress in the region toward more political and economic freedom. He's also proclaimed a partnership with Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to oppose the United States.