Is the end nigh for Hugo Chavez?

posted at 3:21 pm on January 7, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez won reelection for a fourth six-year presidential term in October, but since his reported cancer operation in Cuba in early December, he has neither spoken nor been seen publicly — which is turning into something of a problem for him, considering that a president is traditionally supposed to be present for his inauguration.

On Thursday, the ideologue – who has used his country’s oil riches to bankroll left-wing bed-fellows across Latin America, forged a cosy alliance with Iran and assailed the US from its back yard – is due to be celebrating his next inauguration.

But there will be no joyous scenes. For this weekend, he is lying close to death in a Cuban hospital bed, quite possibly being kept alive on a ventilator, suffering from respiratory problems and a severe lung infection after his fourth round of surgery in 18 months for an undisclosed type of pelvic cancer.

His illness has already sparked a constitutional crisis in Venezuela, where he won a hotly-contested election in October but has not yet started a new term. His death would send shock waves across the region and could endanger the survival of Cuba’s communist regime which is dependent on his largesse for cheap oil.

Never having been one to miss a chance for a grandiose display of self-love and communist glory, his probable incapacitation is fueling all kinds of rumors; the Venezuelan government is going on the offensive to apparently quell the fears of the Venezuelan populace the Chavez might actually be a mere mortal:

Venezuela’s vice president has attacked the “lies” he says are being spread on social media about the health of President Hugo Chavez.

Nicolas Maduro, who is Mr Chavez’s chosen successor, was speaking to supporters in Caracas alongside Diosdado Cabello, who was re-elected president of Venezuela’s National Assembly yesterday.

Mr Maduro said Mr Chavez’s supporters must “be in constant battle to fight the lies” that were being spread by the opposition, naming Twitter and Facebook as conduits for the rumours. …

Mr Cabello told the crowd that it “doesn’t mean anything” if Mr Chavez is unable to be sworn in on Thursday for a third term as president. …

Regardless, opposition and allies alike are already circling, sniffing around for ways to navigate his possible demise; even without some kind of outright coup, what Chavez has deemed to be the constitutional proceedings might not be enough to keep his singular agenda on top if he doesn’t recover:

Here’s what the Bolivarian constitution is clear about: if Chávez dies before Jan. 10, then a new presidential election has to be held within 30 days, and during that time the National Assembly President “shall take charge of the presidency of the republic.” Should Chávez somehow be able to return to Venezuela to be sworn in on Jan. 10 but dies during the first four years of his new term, a new election still has to be held within 30 days, but this time his Vice President becomes President during the interregnum. Should Chávez die during the last two years of the term, then the Vice President simply completes the term’s lame-duck remainder.

If the Bolivarian succession process sounds convoluted, analysts say it’s meant to be. It keeps the Vice President post relatively weak and therefore discourages any challenge to Chávez’s authoritarian rule from within his United Socialist Party (PSUV) while he’s alive; but it aids the continuance of his left-wing, anti-U.S. revolution if he dies by giving the opposition a paltry 30 days to mount an election campaign. Still, what Chávez may not have expected, says Stephen Johnson, Americas director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., is that the scenario would play out “at a moment precisely like this one,” when the opposition does have a viable candidate — Henrique Capriles, the centrist governor of Miranda state adjoining Caracas — ready to hit the trail again after a relatively respectable effort against Chávez in October.

Capriles put in a good showing in the presidential race and already has widespread name recognition, although it would likely still not be enough to overcome a Chavez-esque successor (even as his lieutenants fight about who exactly that should be). Whatever happens, Venezuelan politics have been more or less defined by the one-man show of hyper-corrupt, America-hating, Assad-backing, democracy-destabilizing Hugo Chavez for over twenty years; any change in leadership would have deep-seated implications for the oil-rich communist country and Latin America in general. The rumors and the questions about Venezuela’s fate have only been gaining steam, which seems to suggest that Chavez’s time as president is indeed growing short.


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Chavez’s legacy: he just moved Obama up one notch on the tyrannical authoritarian list …

ShainS on January 7, 2013 at 3:23 PM

I have no tears when murderers, rapists, or child molesters die. That’s usually my benchmark.

Don’t know that Chavez fits that description but I could make an exception for him.

Red Cloud on January 7, 2013 at 3:24 PM

But there will be no joyous scenes. For this weekend, he is lying close to death in a Cuban hospital bed,

Oh, I dunno, some folks will be filled with joy at his passing. Although when Hugo goes to his reware, may be a good idea to keep Sean Penn on suicide watch, considering his passion for Hugo….Sean may not be able to live without him.

hawkeye54 on January 7, 2013 at 3:25 PM

Sic semper tyrannis

Joe Mama on January 7, 2013 at 3:26 PM

Pity he isn’t dying in agony in an interrogation cell while his people celebrate their anniversary of liberation. Oh well.

MelonCollie on January 7, 2013 at 3:27 PM

‘E’s pining for the ahora’

rayra on January 7, 2013 at 3:27 PM

Capriles would be a Godsend for that country, but between the election fraud and the fact that entirely too many down there have deluded themselves into actually liking Chavez, I don’t see much of a chance. Instead of thanking the Lord that they’re rid of a dictator, they’ll sympathy vote in his hand-chosen lackey to continue their path to slavery.

Not that we’re in any position to judge up here…

Gingotts on January 7, 2013 at 3:29 PM

Pity he isn’t dying in agony in an interrogation cell while his people celebrate their anniversary of liberation. Oh well.

Well, he IS in a Cuban Hospital…..he may by dying in agony after all.

hawkeye54 on January 7, 2013 at 3:29 PM

I’ve been following the situation closely. At this point it appears likely a power struggle is going to take place between two of Chavez’s deputies, Vice President Nicolas Maduro (handpicked successor) and has rival Diosdado Cabello, the head of Venezuela’s rubber-stamp National Assembly.

There is a real risk that if an election is held now, it may dissolve into a three-way contest between Capriles, Cabello, and Maduro. This is part of the reason why the Chavistas are desperate to avoid triggering a new election. In a three-way situation like that Capriles would probably win. On the other hand, given the horrible state of the Venezuelan economy, it may actually be better if Maduro or Cabello are in charge when it comes crashing down. Chavez’s policies have destroyed the country.

Doomberg on January 7, 2013 at 3:29 PM

On January 10th, it will be like “Weekend at Bernie’s”, some buy with a string pulling his arm around signing documents…

right2bright on January 7, 2013 at 3:29 PM

buy=guy

right2bright on January 7, 2013 at 3:30 PM

Oh, I dunno, some folks will be filled with joy at his passing. Although when Hugo goes to his reware, may be a good idea to keep Sean Penn on suicide watch, considering his passion for Hugo….Sean may not be able to live without him.

hawkeye54 on January 7, 2013 at 3:25 PM

Sean Penn has always wanted Hugo’s job.

redguy on January 7, 2013 at 3:30 PM

I wonder if he can smell the sulfur.

Rose on January 7, 2013 at 3:31 PM

Whatever happens, Venezuelan politics have been more or less defined by the one-man show of hyper-corrupt, America-hating, Assad-backing, democracy-destabilizing Hugo Chavez for over twenty years

He pretended to hate the US, while stuffing his pockets with US dough.

May the ants eat him soon.

Schadenfreude on January 7, 2013 at 3:31 PM

I wonder if he can smell the sulfur.

Rose on January 7, 2013 at 3:31 PM

You too? What I wouldn’t pay to be a fly on his deathroom wall.

MelonCollie on January 7, 2013 at 3:34 PM

Sean Penn hardest hit…

PatriotRider on January 7, 2013 at 3:34 PM

Sean Penn has always wanted Hugo’s job.

If he can’t get it for real, he can star as him in a heart felt and moving major motion picture project about this sadly misunderstood and noble patriot…..Hey! I sense another Oscar for Penn!!

hawkeye54 on January 7, 2013 at 3:41 PM

Sean Penn hardest hit.

Dack Thrombosis on January 7, 2013 at 3:43 PM

I hope Chavez does not forget to reserve a good frying pan in Hell for Obama, next to his and Saddam Hussein’s.

Archivarix on January 7, 2013 at 3:43 PM

Some of us are on the same page I see…

Dack Thrombosis on January 7, 2013 at 3:43 PM

I’m surprised he didn’t find a look a like to keep his legacy going.

portlandon on January 7, 2013 at 3:45 PM

When he does croak, it won’t make any difference to the people there, they already have a new dictator same as the old dictator waiting to assume power. That country back in the mid 80s to early 90s had a real chance at being the US in SA. Cuba will still be propped up by some tin pot dictator. Maybe Putin would like to take a 2nd crack at the island nation.

Kissmygrits on January 7, 2013 at 3:50 PM

Pity he isn’t dying in agony in an interrogation cell while his people celebrate their anniversary of liberation. Oh well.

MelonCollie on January 7, 2013 at 3:27 PM

Oh, I’m pretty sure there is ample agony where he is headed.

And no, I will shed no tears for the passing of tyrants – may they pass to the netherworld by the day.

turfmann on January 7, 2013 at 3:54 PM

If US scientists had not found oil in Venezuela in the fifties. Mister Piggy Eyes would have little to boast of. He is finished, but nothing better wil follow.

kenny on January 7, 2013 at 3:56 PM

I wonder if he can smell the sulfur.

Rose on January 7, 2013 at 3:31 PM

Now that’s funny. (:

SparkPlug on January 7, 2013 at 3:56 PM

Sic semper tyrannis

Joe Mama on January 7, 2013 at 3:26 PM

Yeah boy, if by tyranny you mean popularly elected official

plewis on January 7, 2013 at 3:57 PM

“…an undisclosed type of pelvic cancer.”

Any guesses…?

Seven Percent Solution on January 7, 2013 at 3:57 PM

Any guesses…?

Seven Percent Solution on January 7, 2013 at 3:57 PM

Syph

kenny on January 7, 2013 at 4:01 PM

Hope so.

Sporty1946 on January 7, 2013 at 4:02 PM

…is he growing horns yet?

KOOLAID2 on January 7, 2013 at 4:02 PM

I think he is only being kept alive by machine and will not make his inauguration. I also think his flunkies know this and are stalling for time to figure a way to swear him in without him being there. Maybe do it at the hospital with some neutral, cough, cough witnesses.

Dr. Frank Enstine on January 7, 2013 at 4:03 PM

Dare we hope he takes Fidel Castro with him? Imagine a Latin America with no Castro and Chavez—it could make the Asian Tiger look like a kitten.

Sekhmet on January 7, 2013 at 4:03 PM

Any guesses…?

Seven Percent Solution on January 7, 2013 at 3:57 PM

Osteosarcoma maybe? I had read that he had had something removed from his pelvic bone and they were worried about it spreading.

Dr. Frank Enstine on January 7, 2013 at 4:08 PM

Yeah boy, if by tyranny you mean popularly elected official

plewis on January 7, 2013 at 3:57 PM

I salute the troll’s courage. Defending Hugo Chavez anywhere outside Dem Underground takes some balls.

Quite a few modern-era tyrants – Hitler, Putin, Morsi in Egypt, and yes, Hugo Chavez and Barack Obama, too – came to power through popular elections. Controlling the media and the vote counters is key to success. Or do you really think that you vote matters?

Archivarix on January 7, 2013 at 4:08 PM

Dare we hope he takes Fidel Castro with him? Imagine a Latin America with no Castro and Chavez-it could make the Asian Tiger look like a kitten.

Sekhmet on January 7, 2013 at 4:03 PM

*imagines a broken, brainwashed citizenry and nations ruined from decades of folly and Communism*

Hmm. Yeah, that’s sounds awfully “tigerish”.

MelonCollie on January 7, 2013 at 4:09 PM

Archivarix on January 7, 2013 at 4:08 PM

You forgot Saddam who was also a popularly elected official which the left/liberals defended the same way. Lets face it. Liberals love tyrants.

Dr. Frank Enstine on January 7, 2013 at 4:12 PM

Dare we hope he takes Fidel Castro with him? Imagine a Latin America with no Castro and Chavez-it could make the Asian Tiger look like a kitten.

Sekhmet on January 7, 2013 at 4:03 PM

There is also that stuck-up socialist kitty in Argentina. Meow!

Archivarix on January 7, 2013 at 4:14 PM

face it. Liberals love tyrants.

Dr. Frank Enstine on January 7, 2013 at 4:12 PM

Liberals are tyrants

kenny on January 7, 2013 at 4:16 PM

Yeah boy, if by tyranny you mean popularly elected official

plewis on January 7, 2013 at 3:57 PM

Bahahaha.

Chuck Schick on January 7, 2013 at 4:16 PM

He may not even be ill, folks. Chavez love theatrics.

dogsoldier on January 7, 2013 at 4:21 PM

Is the end nigh for Hugo Chavez

Drop DEAD you rotten M-effer.

ToddPA on January 7, 2013 at 4:21 PM

“Actually there are three systems,” Dr. Cordova said, because Cuba has two: one is for party officials and foreigners like those Mr. Moore brought to Havana. “It is as good as this one here,(USA) with all the resources, the best doctors, the best medicines, and nobody pays a cent,” he said.

But for the 11 million ordinary Cubans, hospitals are often ill equipped and patients “have to bring their own food, soap, sheets — they have to bring everything.” And up to 20,000 Cuban doctors may be working in Venezuela, creating a shortage in Cuba.

Until he had to have emergency surgery last year, Fidel Castro — who turned 80 this year — was considered a model of vibrant long life in Cuba. But it was only last week that he acknowledged in an open letter that his initial surgery by Cuban doctors had been botched. He did not confirm, however, that a specialist had been flown in from Spain last December to help set things right.

- From a NYT story in 2007 about Michael Moore’s movie, “Sicko.”

2L8 on January 7, 2013 at 4:22 PM

Osteosarcoma maybe? I had read that he had had something removed from his pelvic bone and they were worried about it spreading.

Dr. Frank Enstine on January 7, 2013 at 4:08 PM

The Osteo is strictly Cranial

kenny on January 7, 2013 at 4:26 PM

Ever wonder why Latin strongmen have an affection for Islamic dictators? The Moorish conquest of Spain snuffed out any vestige of either Celtic/ Gothic tribal liberty or Roman republicanism. It was replaced with the Caliphate, a govt of one man both secular and spiritual. We get the Spanish terms caudillo and alcalde from Caliph. Both people, Hispanic and Islamic have zero sense of individual liberty or representative governance. It is unlikely they ever will.

xkaydet65 on January 7, 2013 at 4:32 PM

crocodile tears for this POS’s death.

gsherin on January 7, 2013 at 4:36 PM

The Osteo is strictly Cranial

kenny on January 7, 2013 at 4:26 PM

?
Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer. My mother-in-law had it in her arm. Had to have 6 inches of bone removed.

I googled “The Osteo is strictly Cranial” figuring you were being snarky but didn’t really find a relevance other than “Cranial osteopathy” which seems kind of wooish.

Dr. Frank Enstine on January 7, 2013 at 4:40 PM

Osteosarcoma maybe? I had read that he had had something removed from his pelvic bone and they were worried about it spreading.

Dr. Frank Enstine on January 7, 2013 at 4:08 PM

I agree…Could also be a chondro-sarcoma. He may have some nasty tumors in the hip joints or lower spine. Wouldn’t wish it on my worst…. oh wait…

HomeoftheBrave on January 7, 2013 at 4:43 PM

Whatever. Bon Voyage. Take the air conditioner.

Limerick on January 7, 2013 at 5:03 PM

Snarky? yes, A fellow like Chavez has Cancer of the Brain. One likes to keep their brain surgery to dead birds, or politicians do not you agree? By the way, that kid who runs Google. Yes, Liberal and no brain surgery on his resume.

kenny on January 7, 2013 at 5:05 PM

I think he’s already dead. This just sets SNL up with a new skit based on Generalissimo Francisco Franco.

Vince on January 7, 2013 at 5:05 PM

Picture him taking a big Blue Diamond match, running it up the back of his Levi’s and blowing it out when it gets close to his lips. Then he leaves the bathroom.

I’ll think of Hugo everytime I deploy the good ‘ol American air freshener

DanMan on January 7, 2013 at 5:10 PM

Both people, Hispanic and Islamic have zero sense of individual liberty or representative governance. It is unlikely they ever will.

xkaydet65 on January 7, 2013 at 4:32 PM

I am still firmly of the belief that at least SOME of this is genetic. It just is not possible to account for their constant rejection of these things by culture alone.

MelonCollie on January 7, 2013 at 5:10 PM

I googled “The Osteo is strictly Cranial” figuring you were being snarky but didn’t really find a relevance other than “Cranial osteopathy” which seems kind of wooish.

Dr. Frank Enstine on January 7, 2013 at 4:40 PM

Google hardening of Cranial Passages, or better known as Castroitis

kenny on January 7, 2013 at 5:13 PM

Contrary to popular belief, Cuban doctors are terrible. I was on one of the Caribbean islands and broke an ankle playing tennis. Went to local ER manned (women doc) by a Cuban. She looked at my ankle and told me it was sprained. Took an x ray and said she didn’t see a fracture. I guess that was cause the bone was broke in half. Everyone told me she was the best doctor on the island.

I hope she treated Hugito.

hip shot on January 7, 2013 at 5:35 PM

Well, he will be president for life. Albeit a shortened one. heh heh.

jake49 on January 7, 2013 at 5:52 PM

His is a coffin I’d like to kick a couple times.

paragon27x on January 7, 2013 at 5:52 PM

I wonder if he can smell the sulfur.

Rose on January 7, 2013 at 3:31 PM

.
He’ll wish it was just sulphur, when he gets there.

It’s many times worse than that.

listens2glenn on January 7, 2013 at 6:03 PM

Drop DEAD you rotten M-effer.

ToddPA on January 7, 2013 at 4:21 PM

And hurry up about it.

S. D. on January 7, 2013 at 6:04 PM

Sayonara

Philly on January 7, 2013 at 6:19 PM

He will not be missed.

Cleombrotus on January 7, 2013 at 6:28 PM

I’m surprised he didn’t find a look a like to keep his legacy going.

portlandon on January 7, 2013 at 3:45 PM

Hey, there’s only so much ugly to go around.

trigon on January 7, 2013 at 7:02 PM

All I can think of is that maybe he should have come to the evil USA instead of listening to Michael Moore and going to Cuba for the finest in medical treatment.
I find that I cannot gin up any sympathy for the man. This disturbs me how callas and jaded I have become to not be able to show even a little bit of compassion for someone who caused so much death, pain and suffering in the name of his political beliefs.

mechkiller_k on January 7, 2013 at 7:37 PM

…may be a good idea to keep Sean Penn on suicide watch, considering his passion for Hugo….Sean may not be able to live without him.

hawkeye54 on January 7, 2013 at 3:25 PM

Yes, I would love to watch Sean Penn commit suicide! I’d even give him the bullet.

woodNfish on January 7, 2013 at 11:45 PM