Robertson aside, actually, you’d be on top of Chavez is you were an NRODT subscriber; from Mark Falcoff in the August 29 issue:
In some ways the Chávez regime represents nothing new at all in Venezuela or indeed for the region as a whole — it is merely an exaggerated version of the classical Latin American populist regime, one that rewards loyal followers and buys off potential opponents through the promiscuous use of government funds. But unlike its predecessors elsewhere, this regime survives not by borrowing heavily from abroad, or expropriating foreign investors’ assets, or printing money (or all three), but by earning hard dollars from the export of oil by the state oil company, PDVSA. Nor is Chávez himself a unique phenomenon in Latin America — he merely represents the latest incarnation of the phenomenon pioneered by the late Argentine strongman Juan Perón in the 1940s: the authoritarian by popular consent. Chávez, we should recall, has been elected twice, was reaffirmed in a referendum last year, and is a sure bet for reelection next year. While in theory Venezuela is a constitutional democracy, in practice Chávez has packed the courts, converted the armed forces into a private constabulary, and disobeyed his own new constitution which, on paper at least, established a limited system of checks and balances. Where the rules cannot be bent, the government often reverts to low-grade thuggery and intimidation.
Chávez resembles Perón in another important respect: He regards his country as too small a stage for the role he is called upon to play. His plan is to become the leader of Latin America, perhaps even of the entire Third World. Thus Venezuelans are not to be the only beneficiaries of his largesse. A new regional alliance, Petrocaribe, has been established to buy influence among Venezuela’s Caribbean and Central American neighbors by selling them oil at a deep discount (delivery free of charge). There are plans for something still bigger: a South American energy company, Petrosur, servicing Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru. He is promising to build a $1 billion oil refinery for Uruguay and a fleet of 40 oil tankers for Brazil (price tag: $2 billion). Chávez also has plans for his own network (Telesur) to take his “Bolivarian” message to the far corners of the earth.