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Why Chavez is wooing autocrats abroad

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Not winning their backing marked the latest in a string of defeats for Chavez in Latin America, including the ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, a key ally in Central America.

Chavez most dangerous when weak

Analysts don't expect Chavez to retreat despite the setbacks.

"Chavez is most dangerous not when he's strong but when he's weak," says Matias Spektor, a foreign policy specialist at the Getulio Vargas Foundation in Rio de Janeiro. "He needs to show the grand gesture and crack down at home."

Chavez thought he could capitalize on the leaked word that Colombia was planning to allow US troops to have access to seven of its military bases throughout the country. US allies such as Brazil and Chile, reflecting age-old regional resentments against Uncle Sam, voiced concern about the agreement.

Chavez warned repeatedly that it "loosed the winds of war" and would lead to a US invasion of Venezuela. To dramatize his concern, Chavez threatened to cut off trade with Colombia — a major source of food, machinery, and cars for Venezuela — as well as diplomatic relations.

Latin leaders stand up against Chavez

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