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The Chávez problem

Venezuela’s hostile leader is a greater threat than we think

By Robert Amsterdam   February 2011

When President Hugo Chávez doesn’t get his own way, Venezuelans have learned to prepare for the worst. So as the 65 new members of the opposition settled into their seats in the National Assembly at the start of this year—erasing Chávez’s “rubber-stamp” two-thirds majority—the people will have been bracing themselves once again.

Chávez’s 11-year rule has made Venezuela akin to another country where I have represented victims of political persecution: Russia. Like Vladimir Putin, Chávez has combined populism with strong-arming the judiciary and other state institutions to allow him to rule unchallenged. Unfortunately, while you hear some international concerns voiced…

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