Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Chavez sinking

A new slogan appearing on the T-shirts and banners of anti-government protesters in Venezuela sums up a growing sentiment about President Hugo Chavez after 11 years in power: "You struck out."

The list of strikes against Chavez keeps growing: Latin America's worst inflation, increased blackouts, runaway violent crime and a scandal involving bankers close to his government.

The socialist-inspired governing model that Chavez calls his Bolivarian Revolution — named after 18th-century independence leader Simon Bolivar — is weakened and hobbling. And though Chavez retains close ties with a bloc of leftist governments from Bolivia to Nicaragua, many Latin Americans don't see Venezuela's oil-funded populism as viable.

Among Venezuelans, Chavez's popularity slipped below 50 percent in polls late last year.

Ironically, Chavez is probably more popular among Obama administration appointees than among the Venezuelan people.

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