The Corner

Chavez Slipping

Just a little good news.

CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chávez’s supporters suffered defeat in several state and municipal races on Sunday, with the opposition retaining power in Zulia, the country’s most populous state, and winning crucial races here in the capital, the National Electoral Council said.

Pro-Chávez candidates won 17 of the 22 governor’s races at stake. Many of the seats that Mr. Chavez’s supporters did win were in relatively sparsely populated rural states.

The losses were Mr. Chávez’s second setback at the polls in the past year, after the defeat of a proposed constitutional overhaul last December that would have enhanced his powers. The results will put opponents of Mr. Chávez in charge of areas with more than a third of Venezuela’s 26 million people.

In the early hours of Monday, electoral officials announced opposition victories in two important states, Táchira, on the border with Colombia, and Carabobo, with a large industrial base.

An opposition candidate also won in Sucre, a municipality in Caracas with sprawling slums that had been a symbolic bastion of support for Mr. Chávez since he rose to power a decade ago.

“These victories came in the economic and political centers of the country,” said Luis Vicente León, director of Datánalisis, a polling firm here. “They represent the most important symbols in terms of cities and population.”

Particularly here in Caracas, the results were rooted in festering discontent over the government’s inability to lower violent crime as homicides and kidnappings have surged over the past decade, making it one of the world’s deadliest cities.

Me: After all, what’s the point of having a military dictator if you can’t curtail homicide and kidnappings?

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