Chavez’s Health Concerns Return

Source: Reuters

We are repeatedly told that timing is a crucial factor, especially if you are up for re-election in less than eight months. Venezuela’s Incumbent President Hugo Chavez is a man whose circumstances demand that he be gripped of the clock’s movement every moment of the day. In June of 2011, Chavez went to Cuba for cancer treatments but continued to sugarcoat the status of his health, even announcing to reporters upon his return in October, “Everything went perfect…I got top marks; 20 out of 20.”

Chavez’s health will continue to be a growing point of concern leading up to the election, threatening to be a major distraction to a resolute and well-organized campaign against the opposition candidate, Governor Henrique Capriles Radonski. After the aforementioned declaration that he was cancer free, Chavez’ doctors found a lesion in the Venezuelan president’s pelvis in the same area in which he had undergone surgery to remove an earlier tumor in the Cuban capital last year. Chavez returned to Cuba last week to undergo further surgery to treat the new lesion.

Succumbing to cancer was probably the last thing the incorrigible optimist had on his mind. If it were up to Chavez, he would continue to govern for centuries. Chavez has sent a message of reassurance to his followers in order to allay any concerns about his health. Nevertheless, being in and out of the office to receive treatment has brought many questions, but not enough answers. What can this mean for his precious revolutionary vision, in pluralistic and geographical terms both in a domestic and regional perspective? What will become of Chavez’s relationships with Venezuela’s neighbors, particularly the U.S?

If Chavez is voted out and Capriles becomes the new man in Venezuela how will the new president begin to change the governmental structure of the country? Will Capriles come to have the same impact as Chavez did in the region and most importantly, what would become of Venezuela’s relations with the U.S?  Knowing that Capriles’ support base is becoming more stable and formidable everyday, Chavez has to realize that the current lead he possesses over Capriles is not enough to make a strong push to guarantee winning numbers in his favor.

Recent polls show that Chavez still has a small edge, but Capriles is gaining momentum; since Chavez is not able to currently engage in campaigning for presidency, there is concern that Chavez may not be able to return to the country soon enough to make a difference and that his constituency may shift towards Capriles. The big problem here is that the ill leader doesn’t have a successor in place to continue the fight and keep his administration in power. Individuals close to Chavez who are considered to be potential successors are not publicly adored, nor do they have the popularity to keep up with Capriles.

Chavez’s current inability to campaign gives Capriles a chance to close that gap, which, until now, has kept him from taking the lead. At the same time, he might be at a disadvantage; many of his followers are asking how he can effectively campaign against an ill opponent getting treatment. The lack of a competitive race would take away the legitimacy of the contender’s campaign and potentially influence the military to take matters into their hands. Those who follow the country’s politics and balloting feel that this maybe a serious setback for Chavez, and may ultimately lead to his downfall.

Chavez needs a quick recovery from his illness to show the Venezuelan people that he still has what it takes to remain their leader. In order to make an appeal to the people, Chavez will need to be out there making his case to what has always been a thankless audience. At the moment his recent legislation on social program spending is keeping him afloat, but like everything else, it will start to fade as the elections relentlessly draw nearer. If he is unable to recover, the end of his omniscience in Caracas is a real possibility.

At this time, it is hard to predict what the future holds. Presently, Chavez should be concerned, no matter how optimistic he is about his recovery, or how secretive about the details of his health he wishes to be. If he cannot  revitalize himself to run for re-election, then he quickly needs to groom someone to represent him and maintain the revolution’s values and its goals, as well as establish a smooth transition of power if his health continues to decline.

If Chavez is re-elected and his health issue becomes predictable, someone must be groomed to replace and carry the torch forward for him in order to continue to lead Venezuela through a what is likely to be an extremely difficult transitional period in order to avoid the chaos that could come out of such a tension- frought situation.

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4 thoughts on “Chavez’s Health Concerns Return

  • February 29, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    Venezuela has had enough of the absurd revolution it had to suffer for thirteen long years. The unification of the opposition is a clear sign that this a favorable moment to end this era. there is no doubt that if Chavez loses the election times will be difficult, but there is no other way to begin the reconstruction of the country which is going to be a painfull process.
    Venezuelans have learned their lesson and we all hope that the new generation of polititians will be of a different breed that the ones that presided the pre Chavez democratic times.

  • March 1, 2012 at 9:09 am

    I just read Chavez' surgery had been successful and he would be recovering.
    While "fundaprosal" seems to hope the opposite by longing for the days in the 70s, when infamous exile-Cuban terrorists like Luis Posada Carriles and late Orlando Bosch could torture their opponents within the Venezuelan security services, I belong to those people on earth hoping the best for Hugo Chavez and all his followers seeking for independence from neo-colonial powers.

  • March 2, 2012 at 7:30 am

    Any Venezuelan who votes for Chavez' opposition is an idiot. The dramatic improvements in the lot of the overwhelming majority of Venezuelans under the Bolivarian Revolution led by Hugo Chavez is probably the most remarkable achievement in the history of the Hemisphere. Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Nicaragua have all made significant progress on behalf of their poor majorities under their present leadership, all of which are under attack constantly by the US.

  • March 10, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Chavez has destroyed Venezuela fiscally by trying to export his Bolivarian Revolution. Thank God he will be dead before the year is over. I live in Nicaragua and pray for the same end for the pedophile Ortega.

    It is going to be a great year for the people of Venezuela, and hopefully the people of Nicaragua.

    Sorry,Fred, but you and Josie would not recognize a dictator if he bit you on the ass.


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