Hugo Chavez's plan to solididy himself as a dictator (even more than he already was) has failed, as the people of Venezuela rejected his referendum that would have made him President for life, carved up what was left of the Constitution, and seized even more executive power, and made him the next Fidel. The Chavistas will doubtless continue to misread this, and blame the U.S., but I think Marc Cooper nails it in one strike:
The real answer is that Hugo Chavez lost because a majority of Venezuelans decided he had taken them far enough off, thank you very much, and simply did not want to cross the threshold into an uncertain and prolonged chapter of personal dictatorship and political darkness. Good for them. Let's hope they can make it through the next six years of Chavez' current term.
Indeed. The people wanted democracy. Chavez, after grabbing more and more power, after shutting down the opposition press (with apparent approval from some over here), and his continued authoritarian expansion, couldn't force the people to choose dictatorship. He may call them traitors, but it won't work. Let's just hope and pray Venezuela survives the rest of his term.
BTW, Tully over at my second home Stubborn Facts has consistently provided extensive coverage of this issue, and Chavez's antics in general.