Monday, June 27, 2011

Venezuela Wonders About [T]Hugo Chavez's Future

Venezuelans continue wondering about the health of Hugo Chavez, who remains in an undisclosed hospital in Cuba for an undisclosed ailment. The secrecy surrounding Chavez's health and his condition is particularly troubling since Chavez has spent years accumulating power and undermining democracy in the country.

It's little wonder then that his brother, a physics professor of all things, is claiming that Venezuelans support Hugo and that they should be willing to take up arms to continue Hugo's government.

"The revolution was born in the Bicentennial era, and it made it through elections and we want it to continue that way, following a peaceful path that allows us to build Bolivarian socialism, but aware of the dangers that beset us and that the enemy does not rest, we can not forget as authentic revolutionaries, other methods of struggle.... It would be inexcusable to limit ourselves to only the electoral and not see other forms of struggle, including the armed struggle."

Adan Chavez's comment adds to the threat made by General Rangel Silva late last year, when he said the military may not accept an opposition electoral victory.

Adan's comments must also be taken in context of a potential power struggle within the Chavista ranks. With the possibility that President Chavez will be weaker when he returns to power in a few weeks (not to mention quiet questions about succession), there is a struggle for control and influence within the Chavez ranks to fill that power vaccuum. While only Vice President Elías Jaua would be the legitimate constitutional successor for the president, others including Adan think they are better suited for power. Adan wants to make sure the military will be on his side if and when a struggle within the Chavista ranks breaks out.
While the death-watch appears to have started, Chavez supporters are out in force to try and dampen speculation about his health condition. They further claim that reports of cancer are also overblown or false.

The problem for Chavez's supporters is that someone who is normally omnipresent on Venezuelan television and radio with daily addresses and announcements has been pretty much absent from the airwaves since June 10. The level of secrecy surrounding his health condition and whereabouts are similarly strange.

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