For Chavez, the End Is Near
Referendum will keep him in power, but Venezuelan economy makes it 'irrelevant'
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 14, 2009 4:04 PM CST
A man walks by a graffiti calling for a No vote in Caracas.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Hugo Chavez has a slight lead in tomorrow’s referendum that would allow him to extend his rule in Venezuela, but the realities of the country’s economy make the issue “mostly irrelevant,” Edward Schumacher-Matos writes in the Washington Post. No matter the outcome, his days are numbered. The steep drop in the value of oil, which accounts for 95% of Venezuela’s revenues, spells his doom.

Prices will never rebound to levels Chavez needs to maintain his welfare state, Schumacher-Matos writes. “His is a chronicle of a political death foretold, an old story that ended in most of Latin America in the 1980s.” And it will soon end for Chavez. Opponents who want to face him in the next election “may not have the luxury of his lasting that long.” As for President Obama, the best strategy is to avoid the mistakes of Bush and simply ignore Chavez. "Let the Venezuelans take care of him."