Over the weekend, Hugo Chavez lost the giant set of “reform” proposals on the ballot in Venezuela. The constitutional changes would have enabled the strongman to serve as a dictator for decades and sped up the march toward dictatorial communism in Venezuela by nationalizing all the key industries.

At a superficial level, we can cheer the vote in Venezuela as a victory for democracy. Clearly it is in the short term, but the future of Venezuela appears to be undetermined as long as Chavez is breathing.

The vote was extremely narrow, losing 51-49%. By the narrowest of margins, the Venezuelan people barely said no to losing all their freedoms and submitting to a totalitarian communist regime under their own version of Fidel Castro. The narrowness of such a vote is not good news. You can bet that Chavez is going nowhere.

Expect that Hugo Chavez will bring his Orwellian proposals back another day if he bothers with the ballot at all. He will attempt to inflict the dark cloak of communism over the Venezuelan people with conveniently unchecked presidential power one way or the other. If it cannot be done at the ballot box, Chavez will resort to the usual means of despots.