How Will Traffickers React to Chavez Victory?
Venezuela's longtime leader, often described as "soft" on drug trafficking by US critics, is re-elected.
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez won his fourth presidential election last night—earning another six-years in charge by capturing 54.4% of the vote against 44.9% for his opponent, Henrique Capriles. The victory inspired wild celebrations in Caracas, but it remains to be seen how his re-election will impact the drug traffickers that plague Venezuela. Despite Chavez' government recently purchasing millions in radar and other anti-trafficking gear from China, his administration has often been accused of being soft on drug trafficking. President Barack Obama said that the country is "failing to meet its obligation" to address the issue: 24% of the cocaine shipped out of South America—over 200 tons—passes through Venezuela, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. The amount of cocaine seized in the country has decreased from 58 tons in 2005 to 28 tons last year. That said, Chavez's socialism and his ambivalence towards relations with the US don't help his stateside press: just last May, journalist Dan Rather announced that Chavez, who has had cancer, would die "in a couple of months at most."