Ok, I don't do this very often, and I try to stay un-noticed in political debates, but I'm just going to post some observations I came up with in the shower...
Hugo Chavez has done something unforgivable. He's gotten his democratically elected congress/parliament/what-have-you to cede power to him for 18 months.
I say "democratically" elected, because the members were "elected", but every single member belongs to Chavez's party. The opposition boycotted the elections. Pretty stupid move on their part, if you ask me.
Now, Chavez claims that he'll use his newfound power to transform Venezuela into a socialist paradise. I'm not questioning his motives (although they do reek of power-lust, given that he tried to lead a military coup in 1992), but this is a BAD move.
He's essentially become a dictator, and once the state becomes unquestionable and single-sided, you by definition, alienate the people who aren't being represented. Now, in Venezuela's case, it's the rich people, so he's winning by sheer numbers. However, by alienating the opposition, he's immediately sowing the seeds of discontent. Maybe not now, maybe not next year, but sometime in the future, these seeds will sprout into dissent. Now that he's gotten a taste for power, he will probably try to quash the dissent (be it through censorship or military force), which will further fan the flames, creating a resistance movement. I'll say it right now: If I were a betting man (which I may be, I'm not sure), I'd bet that in 10 years, Venezuela will be embroiled in a civil war. The members of the parliament will be Venezuela's version of the communist party: elite corrupt fat-cats who are riding the coattails of the ruling party.
One more little observation. Hugo Chavez and George W. Bush are two different sides of the same coin. GW's enemy of the state (1984 anyone?) is al Qaida. Chavez's enemy of the state is Bush. Now, I'm no expert, but it seems to me that they both resort to the same tactics in maintaining popular support: blaming their problems on someone external to the country, claiming "if you're not with me, you're with _fill in the blank_".
Thankfully, GW doesn't have a dictatorship. I'm glad our system still kinda works. Now, if they could just reign in the administration a little on things like wiretapping and the Geneva convention.
Ok, rant over. Comment if you like. I'm interested in seeing your thoughts...