Chavez Starts Year With Softer Tone

Humbled Venezuelan president switches focus to litter, crime
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 2, 2008 9:15 PM CST
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez holds Juliana, grand daughter of former Colombian politician Consuelo Gonzalez at Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas, Monday, Dec. 31, 2007. Gonzalez, who has...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has rung in 2008 by shifting focus from instituting his broad vision for a revolutionary socialist state to more concrete problems such as battling crime, cleaning up litter-filled streets, and curbing staggering inflation, Reuters reports. Chavez's change in direction comes after voters failed in December to sign on to his plan to overhaul the country's constitution and after his botched attempt to free hostages in Colombia.

"There are practical problems that do not belong to any ideology and they have to be resolved," the 53-year-old Chavez told state television over the weekend. Chavez is also reaching out to his opposition, having recently granted amnesty to political enemies linked to a failed 2002 coup attempt against his government.