This is a source for analysis, interviews, and commentary on security in Latin America. Herein you will find rumors, the results of off the record interviews, and information you'll not find in international or United States news media.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Chavez, CTD?

When I worked as an emergency medical technician many years ago, we used a short-hand lingo to describe the status of victims. We used "CTD" to describe someone who didn't have long to live. Their lives, like the water in a bathtub soon to disappear down the pipes, was "circling the drain."

With all the recent protests and such in Venezuela, I've fielded a few questions here and there concerning Chavez's chances for political survival. I have to say, they still look pretty good. Students continue to protest, and they have solid grievances, from the closure of television stations to energy and water shortages, and violence. In Caracas alone, some 34 people died from 29 to 31 January.

And on 1 February, a group of former Chavez supporters published their call for him to resign. This group, known as the Polo Consitutional "urged" the ruler to resign.

Yet on the same day, Chavez opened government coffers once again to solve his problems. He has announced a US$1 billion fund for investments in Venezuela's energy infrastructure, announcing a raft of projects designed to fill the gap between the country's energy demand and stagnant supplies, focused mostly on the Guri damn hydroelectric plant.

Ahead of the September legislative elections, we've seen Chavez stumble but he has a long way to go before he falls. The recent currency devaluation doubled the amount of money he has available to spend inside Venezuela. And as the price for oil remains relatively high, Chavez continues to collect foreign exchange. We're watching a long list of items, however, to see where and when support for the embattled president will begin to deteriorate. At the top of the list is food and water. Inflation, security, and jobs round out the top four.

Chavez has his work cut out for him, but there's plenty of time before the elections. As one local journalist said, Chavez will shoot for 70% control of the National Assembly, but even if he wins 60% he'll still be happy and solidly in control of the country's legislative agenda and output.

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