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

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 vicepresident Nicolas Maduro that president Hugo Chávez had died. Madurocried and had tears running down his face as he announced that Chávezdied at 4:25 pm local time (3:55 pm ET) “after battling hard againstan illness for nearly two years.” Chávez has not appeared in publicsince his fourth cancer treatment in Cuba in December. When hereturned to Venezuela on February 11, his supporters were overjoyed,though some wondered if he was returning home to die. It now appearsthat was the case, although the reason for his death was notannounced. 

According to Venezuela’s constitution, there must be a new electionwithin 30 days. The military has announced that will enforce theconstitution, and not permit chaos to ensue. Chávez has previouslyanointed Maduro as his successor. Maduro is a hard-core anti-Americansocialist like Chávez, but he’s entirely lacking in Chávez’s charisma.The man that Chávez defeated in last year’s election, the youthfulMiranda state Gov. Henrique Capriles, is expected to run againstMaduro. 

Chávez has said that he considers Cuba’s Fidel Castro to be like afather to him, and a lot of people expected Chávez to live longer thanCastro, who is still alive but unwell. The two socialists forged aclose relationship, especially when Cuba’s rich sponsor, the SovietUnion, collapsed, ending Russian subsidies to Cuba. But Venezuelastepped in with its own subsidies. Maduro will undoubtedly wish tocontinue the subsidies to Cuba, but without Chávez’s charisma, andwith 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 conferenceblaming “imperial forces,” particularly from the United States, of aconspiracy to kill Chávez. The accusation stems from remarks made byChávez himself in December 2011. Chávez made his remarks the dayafter Argentina’s president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner announcedshe had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Recent years have seen aseries of leftwing Latin America leaders diagnosed with cancer,including Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, Paraguay’s FernandoLugo, 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 thetechnology to spread cancer and we won’t know about it for 50years?

I don’t know but … it is very odd than we have seen Lugo affectedby cancer, Dilma when she was [presidential] candidate, me, goinginto 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 atthe very least strange, very strange. Evo take care ofyourself. Correa, be careful. We just don’t know.Fidel always told me, ‘Chávez take care. These people havedeveloped technology. You are very careless. Take care what youeat, what they give you to eat … a little needle and they injectyou with I don’t know what.'”

According to Maduro on Tuesday, there will be an investigation to seewhether Chávez was inoculated with the cancer that killed him. Maduroannounced that one of the alleged conspirators, US Defense AttachéDavid del Mónaco, was the mastermind of the plot, and “He has beenevicted; he has 24 hours to leave Venezuela; our armed forces shouldbe respected; we have forwarded a legal notice to the US government.”El Universal and Guardian (December 2011)

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