Hugo ChavezJackson Diehl

Leopoldo Lopez, an optimistic political challenger of Hugo Chavez, is well aware of the regime’s unhesitating manipulation of elections: Lopez was once banned from the gubernatorial ballot by government fiat. Nonetheless, he remains hopeful that Venezuelans are mobilizing to unseat Chavez in 2012. A major key to the opposition’s electoral success is support from the United States. But Lopez does not see “a clear policy” from the Obama administration that indicates a focus on a democratic transition in Venezuela. Diehl says this will have to change if the opposition is to continue having hope of voting out Chavez and ushering in democracy.

Diehl is deputy editorial page editor of The Post. He is an editorial writer specializing in foreign affairs.

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