As Venezuela slides further towards authoritarianism, the least we can do is recognize the latest elections were anything but perfect and very far from "democratic."
By winning 54 percent of the national vote, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez declared the election a "perfect victory." Ironically, not only was it imperfect but it amounts to an ideological defeat.
Fifty-four percent of Venezuelans have ratified Hugo Chavez as leader of their country, and Raul's regime has some breathing room. But the great polarization in Simon Bolivar's fatherland will make it more difficult to publicly sustain the maintenance of Cuba.
Mr. Chávez was quick to emphasize his centrist position during his victory speech. But does this mean that we are likely to see a more moderate Chavismo in the next few years?
The U.S. foreign policy establishment (which includes most of the media) seethes with contempt for Venezuela's democratic process. But Venezuela is part of a "Latin American Spring."
If the Venezuelan results will decide whether we are granted billions in subsidies, and our relationship with our powerful neighbor to the north is in play in those elections, the Cuban elections smell strongly of a play whose script is already written.
My guess is that Hugo Chávez will ultimately prevail in his nation's presidential election, but it's still anyone's guess as to what might happen. If the race is close, Venezuela could descend into political destabilization or even chaos, which is surely a worrying prospect.
The man who has dominated Venezuela's politics for over a decade -- and has often expressed his will to rule for at least one more -- is suffering from voter fatigue and an uncertain health outlook after being diagnosed with cancer in mid-2011.
Electoral experts often talk about "free and fair" elections as if they were one and the same. In point of fact, these are two different components that together make up a legitimate election.
So, where does Washington go from here? If it wants to preserve its increasingly tenuous foothold in a nation with the world's largest oil reserves, it might begin by engaging in some honest diplomacy.
For just one man, Julian Assange has certainly managed to discombobulate a large swathe of the geopolitical system. It now seems fair to say that the high-stakes drama unfolding in London and the Ecuadoran Embassy has taken on wider political implications.
The conventional wisdom is that Paraguay's shakeup represents a big geopolitical blow to Brazil and an upset triumph for Washington. There's a degree of truth in such interpretations, but the situation is a bit more complex and nuanced.
In late 2008, in the midst of Washington's financial crisis, Ryan traveled to South America to meet with political and business leaders as part of a congressional delegation.
Now that the U.S. has preserved its strategic position in Paraguay and Venezuela has lost influence, it's time to step back and sort out what actually happened here.
There's no evidence that the U.S. had a direct hand in Lugo's removal, yet judging from secret correspondence recently released by whistle-blowing outfit WikiLeaks, Washington will be somewhat relieved to have rid itself of Paraguay's pesky Bishop President.
For isolated and impoverished countries, it can sometimes prove difficult to pursue an independent foreign policy which challenges Washington's tradit...