Morning Brief: President for life?

Morning Brief: President for life?

Top Story

In what he called a “clear victory for the revolution,” Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez won a referendum yesterday to scrap presidential term limits. Chavez won 54.3 percent of the national vote, making up a 17-point deficit in the last six weeks according to polling. 

Chavez has suggested the he might now stay in the presidency until 2049, when he’ll be 95 and described the victory as a mandate for socialism. Chavez’s critics worry that the president now has virtually unchecked power. “Effectively this will become a dictatorship,” opposition leader Omar Barboza told The Associated Press.

But Chavez must still run for reelection in 2013 and declining oil profits and rampant inflation mean that Chavez may have difficulty maintaining the level of generous social spending that underpins his popularity with Venezuela’s poor. As Lucy Conger writes for FP, the falling oil prices may have already doomed his dream of a united, socialist Latin America.


The Obama administration has dropped the idea of appointing a “car czar” to oversee the auto industry.

President Obama is taking his time in deciding to deploy more troops to Afghanistan.

Mexico’s former drug czar has been charged with taking bribes from the Sinaloa cartel.


Kyrgyzstan took another political step toward closing the U.S.’s Manas airbase.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Tokyo and issued a warning about North Korea’s nuclear program.

Japan’s economy suffered its worst quarterly drop in 35 years.

Middle East

Israeli jets bombed the tunnels on Gaza’s border in retaliation for rocket attacks on Southern Israel.

Israel has seized a large swathe of territory in the West Bank with the intention of constructing new settlements.

Fraud was committed in virtually every province during Iraq’s recent election.


British and French nuclear submarines collided in the Atlantic.

Kosovo celebrated its first year of independence.

Spain became the latest European country to bail out its auto industry with a $5 billion assistance package.


China’s Hu Jintao is visiting Tanzania where he promised a $22 million aid package. 

A U.N. investigator is looking into Kenya’s 2007 election violence.

Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe has bought a $6 million home in Hong Kong. Exit strategy?