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  1. Venezuela Main Page
  2. The Hugo Chavez Era Begins
  3. Chavez Survives Referendum, Consolidates Power
  4. New Referendum Fails but Chavez is Undeterred
  5. New Challenges for Chavez at Home and Abroad
  6. Chavez Experiences Electoral Setback and Battles Health Issues
  7. Major League Baseball Player Kidnapped
  8. An End to the Monroe Doctrine?
  9. Chavez Wins 2012 Presidential Election
  10. Chavez Still Battling Cancer in Late 2012
  11. Chavez's New Term Begins Without Him
  12. Chavez Dies After a Long Battle with Cancer
  13. Protests Turn Violent in 2014
  14. Maduro Retaliates Against U.S. Sanctions
New Challenges for Chavez at Home and Abroad

Months of negotiations between Chávez and FARC rebels over the release of three hostages came to an end on December 31, 2007, when the FARC refused to hand them over, saying the promised security conditions had not been met. On January 10, 2008, however, FARC rebels freed two hostages, Clara Rojas and Consuelo Gonzalez de Perdomo, in Guaviare, in southern Colombia. Rojas, a Colombian politician captured in 2002, and Perdomo, a Colombian law-maker captured in 2001, were escorted out of the jungle by several guerillas. The release of the hostages was a triumph for Chavez, who coordinated the operation.

As part of his continued campaign to assume complete authoritarian control over the country, President Chávez implemented a new intelligence law in May 2008, and replaced the country's old intelligence agencies, which include the DISIP secret police and the DIM military intelligence agency, with two new self-governed agencies called the General Intelligence Office and General Counterintelligence office. The new intelligence law requires citizens to assist the new agencies, or else face incarceration. Chávez claimed that the new law was necessary to guarantee "national security" in the face of alleged intimidation and possible attacks from the United States. On June 7, 2008, Chávez reversed the new intelligence policies, acknowledging the intense opposition and extensive criticism from the Venezuelan people.

On July 31, 2008—the last day that Chávez had legislative power—he approved 26 new laws that significantly increased his control, enabling him to delegate regional leaders with separate budgets, create a new military branch, and temporarily control private companies, among other powers. On Sept. 4, in the latest of many of private company takeovers by the government, the Venezuelan parliament voted to give Chávez control of the country's fuel distribution. Chavez won a decisive referendum in February 2009, giving him the ability to him to run for re-election indefinitely.

Next: Chavez Experiences Electoral Setback and Battles Health Issues
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