Nicolas Maduro won the presidency of Venezuela in Sunday's balloting. But he might have lost the country in the process.
Mr. Maduro, 50, a former union boss and bus driver who became the hand-picked successor of looney lefty Hugo Chavez, was supposed to cruise to victory. In fact, a few weeks back he had a double-digit lead in polls. But Maduro eked out a surprisingly narrow win over challenger Henrique Capriles, by 50.7 percent to 49.1 percent or about 235,000 votes.
Mr. Capriles, 40, the governor of Miranda, is vowing to seek a recount. Whether that happens is anybody's guess. And if the election results stand, few believe Maduro, a “leader” who relies more on the “legacy” of Mr. Chavez than on any real political skills of his own, will have much success.
Venezuela, a Socialist-Marxist state, is plagued by the typical cancers of such a regime — runaway inflation, bare grocery store shelves, debilitating currency controls, nationalized industries that make “growth” an anomaly, horrid public infrastructure, no real press freedoms and an outlandish violent crime rate. Kidnappings are so pervasive, Venezuela is considered the kidnapping capital of Latin America.
Maduro's weak showing surely will embolden outside meddlers — think Cuba, think Iran — to intervene in an attempt to prop up a now-enhanced puppet state that each has long used to its advantage. And Venezuela will continue to be a failing state inching ever closer to collapse and all the nasty things that come with it.
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