4

As Chavez's Condition Worsens, Government Asks Supporters to Be "On War Footing"

^
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

Venezuela's government inched closer last night to admitting what its opponents have been saying for months: Hugo Chávez is on death's door. A government spokesman announced that Chávez's condition has become "very delicate" after another round of strong chemotherapy.

More worrying, Communications Minister Ernesto Villegas also called on Chávez's supporters to "be on war footing" in case the president dies.

See also:
- Hugo Chavez Is Dead, According to Questionable CNN Chile Report
- Hugo Chavez Is "Battling for His Life," Venezuelan VP Confirms

Let's not forget that Chávez's supporters have made waves in the past by giving small children assault rifles to wave around at rallies. His power base includes "thousands of well-armed militias," the Washington Post reports.

So any call to prepare for armed conflict after Chávez's demise shouldn't be laughed off, even for a regime prone to grandiose pronouncements.

The line of succession, if Chávez succumbs to the cancer that's put him out of the public eye ever since his re-election victory in October, is far from clear. Chávez has anointed his vice president, Nicolas Maduro, as his de facto successor, but National Assembly President Dionisio Cabello is arguably the more powerful figure in the party.

Yet both men lack Chávez's charisma, and the opposition -- which came closer than ever to winning a national election under Henrique Capriles -- is likely to call for snap elections if Chávez dies.

That seems ever more likely given last night's announcement. Although Villegas didn't offer specifics, he said the president is suffering a "new, severe infection" and was "standing by Christ and life conscious of the difficulties he faces."

Other than a staged photo with his daughters at the hospital last month, Chávez hasn't been seen in public in months.

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.