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Whither Hugo?

Eli, I agree with you wholeheartedly on Hugo Chavez's open contempt for democracy, and that his taking a Putin-style power-behind-the-throne route is likely -- much as Noriega did in Panama. However, since he's chosen to maintain some thin veneer of democratic practice, this does hobble him and constrain his room for maneuver, however imperfectly. He's never been constrained in any way since coming to power, before today, so Venezuela is facing an entirely new situation.