Chavez Marks Decade in Power

President gives Venezuela today off amid attempts to continue reign
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 2, 2009 9:55 AM CST
Paraguay's President Fernando Lugo, Bolivia's President Evo Morales, Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Ecuador's President Rafael Correa and Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Hugo Chavez declared a national holiday in Venezuela today to celebrate his 10th anniversary as the country’s president, Reuters reports. The festivities come during efforts by Chavez supporters to extend presidential term limits, and amid fears from some quarters that his increased power is evolving into dictatorship. But Chavez doesn’t enjoy the popularity he once did.

Falling oil prices have undercut the nation’s income stream, and in turn threatened the free food and healthcare handouts that have made Chavez’s government beloved by many of the country's poor. But the self-styled socialist revolutionary has withstood a lot already during his decade in office: a coup, a recall attempt, and a national strike.