World View: Chávez Challenger Capriles Expected to Run in Venezuela Special Election

This morning's key headlines from
  • Venezuela's president Hugo Chávez dies of cancer at 58
  • Venezuela accuses America of conspiracy to kill Hugo Chávez

Venezuela's president Hugo Chávez dies of cancer at 58

Venezuela's people were stunned Tuesday by the news from vice president Nicolas Maduro that president Hugo Chávez had died. Maduro cried and had tears running down his face as he announced that Chávez died at 4:25 pm local time (3:55 pm ET) "after battling hard against an illness for nearly two years." Chávez has not appeared in public since his fourth cancer treatment in Cuba in December. When he returned to Venezuela on February 11, his supporters were overjoyed, though some wondered if he was returning home to die. It now appears that was the case, although the reason for his death was not announced. 

According to Venezuela's constitution, there must be a new election within 30 days. The military has announced that will enforce the constitution, and not permit chaos to ensue. Chávez has previously anointed Maduro as his successor. Maduro is a hard-core anti-American socialist like Chávez, but he's entirely lacking in Chávez's charisma. The man that Chávez defeated in last year's election, the youthful Miranda state Gov. Henrique Capriles, is expected to run against Maduro. 

Chávez has said that he considers Cuba's Fidel Castro to be like a father to him, and a lot of people expected Chávez to live longer than Castro, who is still alive but unwell. The two socialists forged a close relationship, especially when Cuba's rich sponsor, the Soviet Union, collapsed, ending Russian subsidies to Cuba. But Venezuela stepped in with its own subsidies. Maduro will undoubtedly wish to continue the subsidies to Cuba, but without Chávez's charisma, and with a faltering Venezuelan economy, he may be forced to back down. AP and BBC

Venezuela accuses America of conspiracy to kill Hugo Chávez

Several hours prior to the death of Venezuela's president Hugo Chávez, vice president Nicolas Maduro gave a vitriolic press conference blaming "imperial forces," particularly from the United States, of a conspiracy to kill Chávez. The accusation stems from remarks made by Chávez himself in December 2011. Chávez made his remarks the day after Argentina's president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner announced she had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Recent years have seen a series of leftwing Latin America leaders diagnosed with cancer, including Brazil's president, Dilma Rousseff, Paraguay's Fernando Lugo, and the former Brazilian leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. According to Chávez, in a speech broadcast on live TV:

"Would it be so strange that they've invented the technology to spread cancer and we won't know about it for 50 years?

I don't know but ... it is very odd than we have seen Lugo affected by cancer, Dilma when she was [presidential] candidate, me, going into an election year, not long ago Lula and now Cristina.

It is very hard to explain, even with the law of probabilities, what has been happening to some leaders in Latin America. It's at the very least strange, very strange. Evo take care of yourself. Correa, be careful. We just don't know. Fidel always told me, 'Chávez take care. These people have developed technology. You are very careless. Take care what you eat, what they give you to eat ... a little needle and they inject you with I don't know what.'"

According to Maduro on Tuesday, there will be an investigation to see whether Chávez was inoculated with the cancer that killed him. Maduro announced that one of the alleged conspirators, US Defense Attaché David del Mónaco, was the mastermind of the plot, and "He has been evicted; he has 24 hours to leave Venezuela; our armed forces should be respected; we have forwarded a legal notice to the US government." El Universal and Guardian (December 2011)

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