Chavez has been out of sight for several weeks and is allegedly recovering in Cuba following a June 10, surgery. According to his closest friends and allies, Hugo Chavez is still alive and the Venezuelan president is firmly in control of the country.
His brother Adan said he had just returned from Cuba and that Hugo was recovering “satisfactorily”. Venezuela’s vice-foreign minister Temir Porras tweeted, “President Chavez is recovering well from his surgery. His enemies should stop dreaming and his friends should stop worrying”.
Some speculate that the President is simply taking a respite to recharge before the 2012 election. But, unconfirmed claims of Chavez’ current health have ranged from dealing with prostate cancer to him having died from a massive heart attack. And now his continued silence and absence have triggered a wave of concern in Venezuela over possible succession concerns.
Under the Venezuelan constitution, Vice President Jaua would become President if Chavez cannot return to power, but many argue that Chavez has become larger than life and cannot be replaced by anyone. “Chávez has made it difficult for anyone to rise to that level where they can be seen as a replacement.”, said Daniel Kerner, a Latin American analyst.
If Hugo dies or is otherwise unable to resume his Presidency, a power vacuum will undoubtedly ensue. The military, the oil industry and native Venezuelan groups may all vie for power in a Hugo-less nation.