Several people in the comments can’t understand why I’ve been thrashing on Hugo Chavez. I suggest reading about his rather unimpressive record documented by Human Rights Watch. That’s a good place to start.
As far as helping out the poor, the LA Times notes:
Economic and social conditions have deteriorated dramatically. The number of Venezuelans living in extreme poverty doubled between 1999 and 2003, Chavez’s first five years as president…
It’s also worth noting that the Bush Administration and the oil companies dropped their antagonism to Chavez before the recall vote and tacitly endorsed “stabilty” instead. How inspiring.