Hugo Chavez announced this weekend that the Venezuelan currency, the bolivar, will be devalued for the third time since 2004. The oil-rich banana republic increasingly resembles Mexico prior to its 1994 economy crash. So, socialist policies enacted by a bombastic Latin American strongman are running a once relatively prosperous nation into the ground -- and guess who's getting the blame?

President Hugo Chávez said he ordered two F-16 jets to intercept a U.S. military plane that twice violated Venezuelan airspace on Friday in what he called the latest provocation in the South American nation's skies.

Brandishing a photo of the plane, which he described as a P-3, Mr. Chávez said the overflight was the latest incursion in Venezuelan skies by the U.S. military from its bases on the Netherlands' Caribbean islands and from neighboring Colombia.

It's no secret that the US Navy has been flying P-3 counter-narcotic sorties out of the Dutch Antilles, which are in close proximity Venezuelan airspace. The P-3 is a specially designed submarine hunter, originally designed to kill Soviet attack subs, which is also optimized to detect Colombian drug runners who use crude submarines and fast boats with a low radar signature in their smuggling operations. Of course Chavez already knows this, as he's seen these patrols brush the edge of his airspace for some time.

So he scrambles two fighters, takes some photos, and -- in a laughably unsubtle move -- announces an egregious violation of Venezuelan sovereignty... in the very same press conference where he's forced to admit that the bolivar is on its way to becoming the next Zimbabwean dollar. It's so predictable that the whole affair borders on parody. The only real surprise is the fact that Chavez managed to actually get two of his F-16s airborne after a decade of US sanctions.

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