It is no surprise, but Hugo Chavez has tipped his hand. He wants to be a "president for life."
Speaking at a stadium packed with supporters in central Lara state, Chavez said he would hold a referendum to put the question of his remaining in office to Venezuelans if the opposition pulls out of upcoming presidential elections.
"I am going to ask you, all the people, if you agree with Chavez being president until 2031," he said.
The Venezuelan Constitution allows a president to be re-elected only once in immediate succession. Chavez is eligible for re-election to another six-year term in December, but if he wins he would not be able to run again in 2012.
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And if this referendum is anything like the travesty that happened when Jimmy Carter monitored the Chavez recall referendum, then he will be in power for another 25 years.
Unfortunately, Chavez is not content to keep his political aspirations to his own country. Peru recalled their ambassador after Chavez called one Peruvian candidate a "thief." Nicaragua is protesting his interference in their election process for selectively applying beneficial oil deals in certain parts of the country, a sort of "petroleum gerrymandering" which he is also trying to do in the United States.
"The elite up there want to attack us and take our petroleum so they can suck it up like Count Dracula -- not to help the people of the United States but to dominate the world with war machines," Chavez told the 60 U.S. heating-oil recipients, whom he flew here last month. The event was broadcast live on state-run television and Telesur, Chavez's leftist satellite network for Latin America."But we use Venezuelan oil for peace, for love, for lifting people from their misery," he continued, waving a carved magic stick that a Penobscot Indian chief had given him in thanks for the heating oil, which Venezuela's U.S.-based subsidiary Citgo sold to 181,000 homes in the Bronx, Harlem and other U.S. communities at 40-percent discounts.
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So far Chavez has used politics to get things his way, but he is not afraid to use force when necessary. He has been building up his military, and what will happen when he decides to pursue his idea of a unified South America, and he doesn't have to worry about elections?
And, of course, if you believe that you can accurately vet a man by the company he keeps, click HERE to see pictures of Chavez with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Fidel Castro, Robert Mugabe, and Saddam Hussein.