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Hugo Chávez to 'deepen' revolution as opponents miss mark

Chávez's victory last night gives him another six-year term, frustrating opponents who say his policies and management style have squandered the country's biggest-ever oil boom.

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Foreign policy

The Chávez victory will certainly mean a continuation of his foreign policy, in which he seeks to undermine US power by supporting governments that oppose the United States and tightening commercial and governmental ties with China, Russia, and other smaller economies in order to reduce global dependence on the US. 

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Venezuela has shipped tankers of diesel to Syria during its ongoing crackdown on protesters, and Chávez supported Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi to the end. Venezuela has become the most important patron of Cuba's half-century-old communist revolution, and the state oil company is under limited US sanctions for dealing with Iran.

The oil exporter has borrowed $42.5 billion from China in the last five years, according to Bloomberg. The debts, largely used to buy Chinese goods such as home appliances and satellites, are paid down with oil.  

'Clean the bureaucrats out of the revolution'

Last night, Chávez thanked the public for voting "for socialism." But he will have to continue to navigate a course between ideological socialists and communists in his movement, and the many supporters who are more interested in handouts or lucrative contracts.

Posters in Caracas from a socialist group outside of Chávez's party say "Oct. 7 vote for Chávez, Oct. 8 clean the bureaucrats out of the revolution."

And even those who wear socialist red T-shirts can't always resist the urge to take part in capitalist vices, frequently decried by the president. On election day, when alcohol sales were outlawed nationwide, teens in red shirts spent the day selling beer on the street in the Catia neighborhood of Caracas, a Chávez stronghold. "Sales are better on election day," one said.

Though the presidency has been decided, neither Chávez nor his opponents can rest: Gubernatorial elections are scheduled for December. In the last round of elections, in 2008, an opposition candidate surprised the pro-government side by winning a pro-government area – that was the state of Miranda, where Henrique Capriles Radonsky beat Chávez ally Diosdado Cabello.

Editor's note: The name of the candidate proposal was misstated in an earlier version of this story.


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