Instability in Eastern Europe. Russia sending weapons to Latin American countries. Terror and uncertainty in the public. Have we stumbled into time warp back to the 1960s? Vlad the Imposer just came back from a trip to Chavezland, where he and Hugo decided to form a strategic alliance to make sure the U.S. is, you know, kept in check. After sending two warships to Venezuela so that the country can defend itself (and more importantly, throw it's muscle around with pro-democratic regimes in the region) Putin and Chavez has vowed to be buddies of the highest order as part of a new paradigm in the region. Now, Russia isn't the Soviet Union, and despite his hard work, Chavez has yet to make Venezuela another Cuba, but we have the beginnings of something here, something concrete. Before Chavez was just a pompous blowhard who shouted campaign-friendly anti-American rhetoric to get votes at home while still making sure the U.S. got it's daily oil allotment. However, this is a serious step in a new direction in the region, and we need to be concerned about how this will affect the more pro-U.S. countries in South America. Venezuela shares a border with Columbia, which it traditionally has not had friendly relations with and resents the country's ties to the U.S. Plus Chile, whose late president Salvador Allende (killed under questionable circumstances in 1973) is still seen as an inspiration for socialists in South America since he was the first Marxist came to power through an election. Chavez, who sees himself as a spiritual successor to leaders like Allende, would most certainly have an issue with Chile's capitalist society. Does this mean that Venezuela will declare war on anyone? No, I don't think it will. But with increased military might, it can certainly throw its weight around in the region. And Russia certainly has plenty of military hardware to spare. –Stephen Payne, Editor, Oil and Gas Investor This Week;;