The Washington Post today has an article up that cheerfully makes the case that Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian Revolution is nearing collapse within and without Venezuela.

Outside the country, Chavez’s influence is quickly dissolving. With the Honduran presidential crisis quietly resolved with Chavez acolyte Manuel Zelaya in exile and barred from holding office, Chavez’s campaign to export his brand of socialist revolution has been effectively blocked, leaving Cuba,  Bolivia, and Nicaragua as his only real allies in Latin America. And whereas the rest of the region has been willing to at least tolerate him, two things have now shifted against Chavez: the victory of the first conservative president in Chile since Pinochet, who is the first leader in the region willing to speak out forcefully against, freeing up the US to follow suit as doing so alone would have led to accusations of the paternalism that characterized US policy south of the Rio Grande. And while Presdient Da Silva of regional Heavyweight Brazil has been pulling his punches on criticizing Chavez, he’s retiring at the end of the year and his party’s candidate is trailing another conservative challenger. This leaves him isolated internationally aside from the usual peanut gallery, and even they can’t be relied upon of late: Russia will likely find it easier to antagonize the US in other, closer arenas, North Korea’s in the trust building phase of its often bifurcated foreign policy, and Iran currently has no functional foreign policy to speak of outside the nuclear issue.

Even if it becomes isolated, there’s still the possibility that Chavez could survive within Venezuela just as the Castros have turned Cuba into a socialist fortress. Alas, here the cards are mightily stack against him as well: as I noted earlier the recent currency devaluation was hardly popular, the population at large remains poor despite promises of spreading the oil wealth, which itself is impossible given that the economy continues to shrink even as Venezuela’s neighbors and oil prices recover. All of that would be enough to imperil him on their own, but the real kicker is the fact that, due to drought the dam that provides 70% of venezuela’s power is about to fail and lack of further energy investment means there’s no backups.

What this adds up to is that Chavez is in very real danger of being overthrown, one way or another. While he had been fairly successful in building up his power, recently getting voters to abolish term limits for him, he had yet to enshrine himself as a true president for life. Thus he’s left vulnerable to electoral defeat having failed to provide either at home or abroad, and even in the event of falsified results the public will likely have little patience for shenanigans, the US even less in its own back yard. As its unlikely he has the money to buy the military’s continued loyalty, the end of Chavez may finally be near. What comes next is anyone’s best guess.

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