"For more than a decade, Chávez has dominated Venezuelan politics, establishing a grip on power unequalled in the region, outside of Cuba. But lower oil prices, as well as the effects of economic mismanagement and neglected infrastructure, have begun to erode his popular support. . . . Late last year, Chávez mocked critics who warned that Venezuela, more than 90 percent dependent on oil revenues for its foreign earnings, was poorly positioned to ride out the global crisis. The country's economy, he said, was "bulletproof." . . . But after more than four years of rapid growth, Venezuela is now firmly in recession. Worse still, its shrinking economy has done little to blunt inflation, which is running at close to 30 percent a year - - around three times the regional average. And the economic downturn is having a predictable effect on the government's popularity, just as it gears up to fight crucial legislative elections next year. The latest data from polling company Datanálisis shows voters evenly split, for the first time since mid-2004, over whether the president has been good or bad for "national wellbeing."
Chavez is rabidly anti American, and is a conduit for Iranian influence in South America. Isn't this the time to actively oppose Chavez, while he's weak, rather than "opening dialogue" with him?