Chavez slams brakes on drive for revolutionary change in Venezuela

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is putting the brakes on his drive for revolutionary change in Venezuela, shifting away from radical socialist reforms in favor of a pragmatic focus on everyday problems from soaring crime to trash-strewn streets. One month after voters rejected reforms that would have greatly expanded his power and enshrined socialist principles in the constitution, Chavez is toning down his revolutionary rhetoric to focus on lingering day-to-day problems affecting Venezuelans of all political leanings. "I'm forced to reduce the speed of the march," Chavez said Sunday, telling new members of his Cabinet to "accept reality" and "put their feet on the ground." "This will be the year of the three R's: Revision, rectification and relaunching," he said. A close ally of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, Chavez spent much of 2007 promoting his idyllic vision of a new Venezuela transformed through "21st-century socialism," and he began by nationalizing the country's electricity, telecommunications, natural gas and oil industries.