It's rather telling just how serious the situation is that he has been silent for so long and that the military has had to come out and say that they will guarantee the ongoing safety and security.
General Henry Rangel Silva said on Friday the military would guarantee constitutional order during Chavez's absence for treatment in Cuba. The president, he said, would be home "soon" and was still in charge.It's a sad day for democracy in Venezuela that everything has to hinge on Chavez's health; there's no line of succession and his underlings try to put on a veneer of calm when they have no idea what comes next.
"We have seen our comandante thinner than usual but still standing. The truth is he is getting better, he's fine," Rangel told state television. "The country is calm."
The usually vivacious Chavez, 56, confirmed in a stern speech on Thursday he had surgery in Cuba to remove a cancerous tumor and was receiving more treatment. He said he needed time to recover before returning to Venezuela to run his self-styled revolution.
A fiery critic of the United States, Chavez will miss events marking Venezuela's 200th anniversary of independence from Spain. He had to cancel a regional summit planned for the momentous July 5 date.
Markets have generally reacted positively to news of Chavez's health problems, on the presumption they improve the chances of a more business-friendly government.
It's also telling that Chavez had to go to Cuba for treatment; does Venezuela not have doctors and cancer care? Perhaps that was the result of Cuba being far more secretive about Chavez's condition and that he could get treatment without the prying eyes of media outlets. However, his prolonged absence spurred questions about his health condition.
I don't know, but this seems to be the position being taken by Chavez's apparatchik's and military: