Most economists and "experts" have been predicting the drastic decline of Venezuela for some time. The new taxes, privatizations, and heavy government spending was certain to drive away foreign investment and bankrupt the country. On top of that, Chavez was said to be insane.
But, let's take a look at what's going on in Venezuela:
1) They raised mnimum wage by 25% - the higest rate in all of Latin America - even higher than US favourites - Chile and Mexico.
2) Venezuela and Coolumbia exchanged prisoners (extradition) with the new Colombian leader - showing that Chavez can work with reasonable, moderate leaders.
3) A poll came out ranking 124 countries in terms of well-being - with people ranking their happiness now and in the near future.
Denmark was first. Canada was 2nd, but Venezuela came in 6th - by far the highest of any of the Latin America countries.
Chavez is the Simon Bolivar of the 21st century.