I feel I should do some explaining about my enthusiasm for Chavez and for the referendum that would have extended his ability to remain in power---and about the comment below that I wrote that indicated that having Chavez stay in power even longer might be necessary because of the nature of the changes that the referendum would have made.
Not only would all of this strengthen the Venezuelan State but it would empower one person rule within that state.
My feeling is that socialism in Venezuela is much more than a top down operation, that there's a lot of independent action going on down at the bottom through local citizens councils. There have also been moves to give more power to the levels below the top of the federal government itself, towards the local. The referendum contained some articles stressing the further development of these locally based initiatives, as well as one creating new classes of communal property existing between the state controlled and the privately controlled.
I felt that there was enough in the referendum, particularly the social security and nationalization clauses as well as opening higher education for everyone, that could contribute to personal and social liberation that it outweighed the threat of Chavez abusing power. Maybe I was wrong, but my feeling is that the Chavez phenomenon is a lot more than Chavez himself, which would reduce the danger of having the clauses that everyone talks about be approved.