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Venezuela's United Socialist Party is already facing a succession battle between two prospective successors to Hugo Chávez: Nicolás Maduro, an avowed communist and close friend of Cuba, and Diosdado Cabello, a former military official with ties to the country's business community. Whichever man wins, he will have to remember that Chávez has skillfully relied on a mix of both strategies to win the love of his people -- strident anti-americanism and largess for the poor on the one hand, and kickbacks to big business and billions of dollars in oil sales to the United States on the other.
For more than a decade, Chávez’s popularity has remained high because of his strong support from the country’s poor. But his strategies to entice the neediest have reached their limit. Now the socialist president's future depends on his counterproductive and schizophrenic relationship Venezuela's private sector.
Easily the best scholarly treatment of Hugo Chávez's hybrid electoral autocracy, Corrales and Penfold's book courageously refutes orthodox explanations -- from the right and the left -- for this unique caudillo's rise and resilience.