It’s been a rough month for Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. In less than two weeks, he has had to deal with a deadly prison riot, a collapsing bridge, flooding, an embarrassing confrontation with steel workers on live TV and the country’s worst oil-industry disaster, which killed at least 41 and still has families digging through the rubble looking for loved ones.
The avalanche of bad news would be hard on any leader, but this train of troubles comes as Chávez, 58, is heading into an Oct. 7 presidential race that polls suggest is getting tighter.
For the last 14 years in office, Chávez has played the roll of an energetic leader with a common touch. Even when his administration had missteps, voters rarely held their charismatic comandanteaccountable.