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Latin America Blog

Where is Hugo Chavez?

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been recovering from an operation in Cuba, but his absence is reminiscent of Fidel Castro's illness in 2006 that eventually caused him to step down.

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Then, on June 10, while in Cuba, it was announced that he had an operation there for a “pelvic abscess." On June 11, the next day, Chavez called TV network Telesur and used the word “malignant,” saying “there is nothing malignant, there is no infection."

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Since then, there has been total silence. Cuban newspaper Gramma distributed this picture of the Castro brothers visiting him (see original blog), which some claim is a photoshop version of those taken during a visit last December.

This Friday is a national holiday in Venezuela and some expected Chavez to reappear, but the military parade in Carabobo is likely to be cancelled. And I am told the one on July 5 for Independnce Day will also be canceled.

Meanwhile, Chavez’ five-day permit to be absent from the country has expired, the vice president has not been appointed to serve for him in the meantime, which is what the constitution says should have been done. The vice president, unloved within his party, says critics want him to commit treason. Funny that following the constitution can be considered “treason.”

And the mystery continues. Our take: Hugo is very sick, with what I am told is something debilitating but not fatal, but his ability to run a campaign is being put into question. There may be crazy jockeying and conspiring going on in Caracas, Havana, and Chavez's party, the PSUV, but somehow the opposition has not focused on the illegalities and contradictions of the situation.

Meanwhile it has been 43 days since the first knee problem and 13 days since the operation in Cuba, 12 since we last heard from the once loquacious Constitutional President of Venezuela… and counting….

(Chavez’ brother says it will be 10 to 12 days before Chavez returns, that is a three week convalescence for a relatively young man. It must not be something simple.)

---Miguel Octavio, a Venezuelan, is not a fan of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. You can read his blog here.

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