A somber Hugo Chavez appeared on nationwide TV tonight and confirmed what most people had suspected: His cancer is back, he needs to return to Cuba tomorrow and he has been under a lot of pain and discomfort.
But perhaps the mos dramatic element of his speech, was that he essentially said VicePresident (and Foreign Minister) Nicolas Maduro will be his succesor, not only as far as the Constitution says, but he also designated Maduro as his succesor should there be the need for an election for President. He also said people should vote for Maduro if this election Were to take place.
While Chavez tried to explain that this was all a surprise, the timeline of events suggests this was not the case, as his dissapearance from public view clearly implied he left because the cancer was giving him discomfort.
Since we still dont know the nature of the cancer and the operation, it is unclear if it is a dangerous procedure. The key event will be whether Chavez can or not be present on Jan. 10th and be sworn in as President. If he can, we will have to wait until his health deteriorates again, which it wil,l as a cancer recurring like this is a very bad sign. If he does not, Maduro will assume the Presidency, name his Vice-president and will have to call elections before February 10th. There is also the outside chance that the operation will not go well. This case is more complicated because independent of Chavez’ desires, The President of the National Assembly will take over after Jan 10. if Chavez were unable to complete his term. Maduro can not hold both positions.
The country still does not know the full truth of what is going on. Unfortunately, Chavez’ absence is likely to delay important decisions on the economy. The impact on the upcoming Gubernatorial elections is much harder to determine at this time. Chavez has always been the big draw in elections, but the short time of a week, makes it difficult for the opposition to gain on the news.