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Populists, centrists square off in South America's leadership divide

•, By Juan Forero
BOGOTÁ, Colombia — Quite suddenly, whether intentional or not, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner became the standard-bearer of populist nationalism in Latin America when her country seized a Spanish oil company last week.

The takeover of YPF enthralled Argentines and drew praise from nationalists as far away as Venezuela, even as the radical political left in Latin America struggles with questions about its future.

The region's most bombastic leader, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who says his self-styled revolution should replace what he calls "savage capitalism," is so ill with cancer that he has taken to pleading with God in public to spare his life.

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