The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Chavez Cured of Cancer for a Second Time

Just a few short months after Hugo Chávez declared himself “cured” (again) of cancer just in time for October elections, the man has yet again emerged from a successful surgery. BBC News reports that Chávez’ operation, his fourth since 2011, lasted about six hours.

But instead of claiming that Jesus had cured him or that the reemergence of the cancer was inflicted upon him by the West, this time Chávez did something more practical: he named a successor. Hugo announced that if he dies Venezuelans should vote for Vice President Nicolas Maduro in the ensuing election. Maduro’s speech following the announcement revealed much about his character:

“We are eternally grateful to Chavez. We will be loyal to Chavez beyond this lifetime,” he said, adding: “We are the children of Chavez”.

Maduro then led a vigil for the President in which followers sang along with a recording of one of Chávez’s renditions of the Venezuelan national anthem (sadly, we could not find the recording on YouTube).

But with the end of the Chávez era in sight, Venezuelan politics are about to become more interesting. Clearly, Maduro has the upper hand in the jockeying for Chavez’s official blessing, but leadership hand-offs are difficult to predict, particularly in authoritarian states like Venezuela. We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled.

Published on December 12, 2012 5:00 pm