I so regret that the Washington Post went to print prior to getting the news about the re-election of President Chavez. They have been on him like a mosquito at night flying around your ear. There has been nothing that the Chavez administration can do right, as far as they are concerned, but worse, they have been active advocates for the undermining of the Chavez administration.
So, the election happened; it was fair (by all accounts!); and President Chavez has been re-elected. No, it was not a slam-dunk. 54% of the vote is not insignificant, but clearly Venezuela remains badly divided. The administration faces major challenges. These include successors for President Chavez; the building of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela as a true mass radical party that is actively pushing the process of socialist transformation; strengthening the Afro-Venezuelan movement and its role in the governing bloc; and winning over (or back) many of those in the middle who have been unsettled by the uptake in crime and many of the economic problems.
A Chavez defeat would have been a source of excitement for the US ruling elite and would have been used as an instrument to further efforts at intimidation of those Latin American countries attempting a different course. The US ruling elite will now have to reflect on its options. Perhaps they should start with a simple notion: first, do no harm!