October 27, 2006:
President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela loves to position himself as a champion of the oppressed, and enemy of the United States, and anyone who is cozy with the U.S. This annoys a lot of American, but observers inside Venezuela advise that if Chavez is just left alone, he'll pretty much self-destruct. Aside from a general loss of influence abroad due to his antics, he's having internal problems. When the former CNO (Chief of Naval Operations, or commander of the navy) announced his retirement, Chavez named a replacement. But even before the new guy could take over, Chavez changed his mind, and another guy was given the job. The new Venezuelan CNO comes out of the "Marine Corps" (i.e., naval infantry). He's the first marine ever to be named CNO. Very curious. Some analysts believe the guy who was supposed to get the job may have been too professional, and not sufficiently indebted, and loyal, to Chavez. This sort of thing shakes the confidence of government officials in their president.