Did Chávez Attempt To Pull A Putin?

Last week had two elections which had an impact on deciding whether two countries, Venezuela and Russia, would slip more towards dictatorship. There have been several reports suggesting Putin stole the election in Russia. Newsweek now has an opinion article by Jorge Castañeda, former Foreign Minister of Mexico and a professor at New York University, arguing that  Hugo Chávez also attempted to steal the election in Venezuela but the military prevented this. (Hat tip to Captain’s Quarters):

Most of Latin America’s leaders breathed a sigh of relief earlier this week, after Venezuelan voters rejected President Hugo Chávez‘s constitutional amendment referendum. In private they were undoubtedly relieved that Chávez lost, and in public they expressed delight that he accepted defeat and did not steal the election. But by midweek enough information had emerged to conclude that Chávez did, in fact, try to overturn the results. As reported in El Nacional, and confirmed to me by an intelligence source, the Venezuelan military high command virtually threatened him with a coup d’état if he insisted on doing so. Finally, after a late-night phone call from Raúl Isaías Baduel, a budding opposition leader and former Chávez comrade in arms, the president conceded—but with one condition: he demanded his margin of defeat be reduced to a bare minimum in official tallies, so he could save face and appear as a magnanimous democrat in the eyes of the world.

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