After years of Hugo Chavez's growing influence in Latin America, the Venezuelan president's appeal has begun to wilt south of the border.
In Argentina, the administration of President Cristina Kirchner — who allegedly received financial assistance from Chavez during her 2007 campaign — suffered a devastating defeat in the midterm elections in June, and her negative approval rating has soared to 70 percent.
In Honduras, less than a third of the population approved of the rule of President Manuel Zelaya, another Chavez ally, before the military removed him from office.
In Nicaragua, Chavez ally Daniel Ortega also faces strong opposition as he plots to perpetuate his rule, as Chavez has done in Venezuela, Frida Ghitis notes in the Miami Herald.
Even in Venezuela, a recent survey found that two-thirds of the people want Chavez to leave power by 2012 at the latest.
"Latin Americans have seen the continuing Chavez power grab, the restrictions on freedom of the press, the confiscation of private property," Ghitis writes.
"And they have started to see the rampant inflation and other perilous economic consequences of his policies."
During the George W. Bush administration, Chavez boosted his standing at home and elsewhere in Latin America by "mocking Bush" and "warning of the threat from 'The Empire,' his term for the United States," Ghitis observes.
But now, "as Chavez's appeal begins to wane, and with Bush in retirement . . . the rest of the region would welcome stronger ties with this northern neighbor."
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