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Has Hugo Chavez Peaked?

Andres Oppenheimer writes a really intriguing column in the Miami Herald today:

Has Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez reached his peak? Will his political star begin to fade following his latest setbacks at the United Nations and his failure to get his protégés elected in Peru's and Ecuador's first-round elections?

Like many of you, I found myself asking these questions while watching Chávez's international embarrassment at the United Nations, where he has so far failed to win a much-coveted Latin American nonpermanent seat on the Security Council. Chávez had been working around the clock to win the seat, visiting more than 30 countries over the past year and donating more than $1.3 billion all over the world in exchange for promises to support Venezuela over U.S.-backed Guatemala in the U.N. vote.

Yet, when the voting started Monday, Venezuela -- which claimed to have the support of more than 100 countries, versus about 90 for Guatemala -- not only failed to get the needed 128 votes, but ended up far behind Guatemala. Since the voting is secret, it became apparent that many countries that received Venezuelan petrodollars had publicly supported Chávez but then voted secretly for Guatemala. Voting resumes today after a day off.

Read the rest.