After Chávez – commentary

After Chávez

Chavez

Pres. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela

Posted By Stabroek staff On December 11, 2012 – Editorial | 

The end of protracted political regimes under the control of powerful, strong-willed rulers and driven by cults of personality are almost always attended by succession struggles. Who governs once the maximum leader is gone is almost always a matter of complexity and strife both within the ruling clique to which the ruler belongs and amongst the forces comprising the political opposition.

Sometimes, the consequences of such succession struggles for the nation in question can be serious, to say the least. Venezuela, it seems, may be confronted with just such a scenario.  

For reasons that need hardly be re-stated in this editorial the unfolding political events in Caracas are necessarily of interest to Guyana. The announcement by President Hugo Chávez that his cancer has returned and that he will have to undergo more debilitating cancer treatment in Cuba is sudden, though perhaps not all that shocking.. This time around Mr Chávez’s pronouncement regarding his cancer has been attended by the issue of succession.

There had always been a measure of suspicion that the true state of President Chávez’s health was being concealed in order to see him through last October’s general elections. The elections are no longer an issue and the fact that it was the Venezuelan President himself who publicly raised the issue of the ‘return’ of his cancer and the requirement of making another demanding medical trip to Cuba suggests that the state of his health is quite serious, perhaps even dire. Put differently, a point has been reached where the issue of the former army Colonel’s mortality had – as much for his administration as for Venezuela as a whole – become a critical one and that it would have been irresponsible, to say the least, not to make the Venezuelan people aware of what the bottom line was.
Just as significant as Mr Chávez’s announcement of the return of his cancer was his naming of the country’s Vice President Nicolas Maduro as his favoured successor. Having won an impressive victory at the October general elections, President Chávez’s new term of office begins on January 10, 2013 though one suspects that he is dropping a less than subtle hint that his fight against this latest encounter could in effect end his fourteen-year presidential tenure. Should he be unable to continue to hold office elections will then fall due in thirty days.  Mr Chávez, it seems, considers Maduro the fittest person to carry on his revolution.

Here, the question that arises is whether a seriously ailing Chávez, with waning powers, will have his way. If Mr Maduro, a one-time union leader may well retain political popularity among the poor civilian population that has been Mr Chávez’s constituency, he may find himself confronted by a political opposition from both the influential military wing of the President’s constituency and a conventional political opposition that could become increasingly revitalized as the ailing President’s grip on power slips. Even now, by making public his wish that Maduro succeed him President Chávez may well have – perhaps inadvertently – triggered a power struggle between his Vice President and the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly Diosdado Cabello, a former soldier linked to the 1992 coup attempt against President Carlos Andrés Pérez.  Even now – and while Mr Chávez has so far said nothing about relinquishing presidential responsibility – Cabello would become caretaker president in the case of the ‘absolute absence’ of the president. Temporary absences of the president for up to 90 days can be covered by the vice president.

The fact that up until now the Venezuelan authorities have revealed little about the details of Mr Chávez’s cancer means that apart from his family, closest confidantes and doctors, few people may be certain of just how ill he is. On the other hand, the fact that after at least two earlier cancer operations we are now learning that he has not beaten the disease after all, suggests that he may be fast approaching a point where he may be incapable of coping with the twin demands of the presidency and the mental and physical fatigue of more cancer treatment.

Last October’s impressive electoral victory demonstrates beyond doubt that despite his detractors – and the ill-concealed wish on Washington’s part that his ‘revolution’ come to an end – President Chávez remains a popular President with a considerable following among the poor inside Venezuela. That fact gives rise to the possibility that any attempt to compromise his revolution could lead to a popular reaction. On the other hand, whether the 58 year-old firebrand leader will, if he is unable to resume the presidency, find a political ally with the credentials to keep Venezuela politically stable and, perhaps equally important, on the path of political democracy, is decidedly unclear.
Contemporary Venezuela may well be drifting towards uncharted waters.

—  Also read  – click link below to access the story:

Venezuela’s Chavez suffers complication from surgery

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Comments

  • needybad4u- Leonard Dabydeen  On 12/13/2012 at 9:57 am

    Very true evaluation of the Venezuelan political state. If and when Cha`vez bows out, Venezuela will no longer be the same.

  • wycs  On 12/13/2012 at 4:41 pm

    Reading the above, gives one the impression that Mr Chavez is more ill than he was telling the people. Mr Chavez was a likeable person particularly to the poor in Venezuela. He was a good man and I wish him a speedy recovery. May God have mercy on him.

  • Cyril Balkaran  On 12/14/2012 at 9:56 am

    Mr. Chavez has been a good man and a good president. His Vision led him to be merciful on all non oil producing states that suffered during the period of high oil prices. He created Petro Caribe for the Caribbean people. He went about his business globally and did not spare the US President George Bush who had a global tongue lashing experience of this Man called Chavez. May his Intestinal Cancer be surgically removed, and his post Cancer Radiation Therapy be without the complications that we know. May God Almighty have Mercy on this Venezuelan President and may He heal Him! God Bless Chavvez and the team of doctors who are with him!

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