Venezuelan President/Dictator Hugo Chavez has won re-election. More from AP:
President Hugo Chavez put to rest any doubts about his masterful political touch in winning a third consecutive six-year term after a bitterly fought race against a youthful rival who has galvanized Venezuela's opposition.
The state governor who lost Sunday's presidential vote, Henrique Capriles, had accused the flamboyant incumbent of unfairly leveraging to his advantage Venezuela's oil wealth to finance his campaign as well as flaunting his near total control of state institutions.
Capriles also narrowed Chavez's margin of victory to his smallest yet in a presidential contest. This time, the former army paratroop commander who led a failed 1992 coup won 55 percent of the vote against 45 percent for Capriles, with 98 percent of the vote counted.
In 2006, Chavez's margin of victory was 27 points.
Nevertheless, the populace endorsed once again Chavez's stated aim of converting Venezuela into a socialist state.
"If I were American, I'd vote for Obama," Chavez said in a televised interview that aired Sunday.
The Venezuelan leader called Obama "a good guy" and said if the U.S. president were a Venezuelan, "I think ... he'd vote for Chavez."
The problems with Chavez go beyond his dictator like tendancies. Chavez has close ties to Iran, Hezbollah operates in his country and he has access to major resources like oil to keep him in power.
Amid fears of unrest if the result was close, national guards armed with AK47s and teargas patrolled the streets. Both sides had warned that the other was preparing to destabilise the country.
With Venezuela sitting on the world's largest oil reserves and Chávez a leading figure in the resurgence of the political left in Latin America, the vote will have an impact on the global economy, energy supplies and regional geopolitics.