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Reuters stays on top of things, for sure


As Captain Renault would say, "I'm shocked...shocked..."   Gambling in a casino!  Imagine that.  Two plus two equals four!

Not for the faint of heart.

Analysis: Allies to lose socialist patron if Venezuela's Chavez goes

By Andrew Cawthorne
CARACAS | Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:05am EST

(Reuters) - Murals adorning a Caracas slum that has given militant backing to President Hugo Chavez over the years are a virtual pantheon of international radicals.

From Colombia's FARC guerrillas to the Palestine Liberation Organization and Ernesto "Che" Guevara, the images and slogans on teeming slopes above Chavez's presidential palace hail socialist revolutionaries the world over.

Beside them are tributes to Chavez himself - testimony to the Venezuelan leader's bid to place himself at the front of global "anti-imperialism" in his ever-controversial 14-year rule.

Now, though, as Chavez battles cancer in a Cuban hospital, his role as garrulous international activist and rich godfather to fellow leftists around Latin America is under threat.

"All Venezuelan revolutionaries, and all people of good faith around the world, are praying for his recovery," said Greivis Garcia, a 26-year-old mechanic at a vigil for Chavez in the January 23 slum full of revolutionary images.

"We need him so much. And so does the world. But whatever happens, Chavez will live forever, damn it!"

Should he die or be forced to stand down, faraway friends from Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Belarus's President Alexander Lukashenko and Syria's President Bashar al-Assad would lose a loud and highly visible supporter.

Chavez has provided some concrete help to such allies - skirting Western sanctions to send a few controversial fuel shipments to Tehran and Damascus, and doling out home-building contracts to Chinese and Belarussian companies.

Yet his international role has been mainly symbolic.

From visiting Iraq's Saddam Hussein in 2000 to cheering Libya's Muammar Gaddafi during his final days in 2011; from calling former U.S. leader George W. Bush "the devil" to hailing the veteran Marxist militant known as Carlos the Jackal, Chavez has never lost an opportunity to goad and shock the West, and the United States in particular.

"Venezuela used to be known only for two things: oil and beautiful women. Now, it is famous the world over for just one: Chavez," said a senior Western diplomat in Caracas.

continue reading HERE.... but steel yourself for more surprises


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