If Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is unable to battle back from his latest bout of cancer--the existence of which he confirmed this weekend--a potential successor is waiting in the wings.
Several doctors told The Associated Press recently that the leftist leader’s prognosis does not look favorable.
With that in mind,Vice-President Nicolas Maduro will potentially replace Chavez, who has dominated Venezuelan politics for more than a decade and recently secured his third six-year term in office in October. It is the first time that Chavez has announced a potential successor while battling cancer.
“Nicolas Maduro should not just finish the term as the constitution says, but it is my firm opinion, clear as the full moon, absolutely irrevocable, total, that in a scenario in which presidential elections would have to be held, you should elect Nicolas Maduro as president,” Chavez announced on television Saturday night in reference to the recent discovery that his cancer has returned, according to the EFE news agency.
Once again, Chavez will seek treatment for a fourth time in a year-and-a-half in Cuba, he added.
“It’s absolutely necessary, it’s absolutely essential to undergo new surgery and that is going to happen in the next few days,” he said.
The announcement comes after Chavez spent around three weeks out of the public eye in Cuba to hasten his recovery before his inauguration ceremony in January.
Maduro, a former bus driver, has long been Chavez’s foreign minister and is one of his most trusted allies. He has made several presidential announcements while Chavez has been away seeking treatment in the past 18 months.
Dr. Carlos Castro, the scientific director of Colombia-based League Against Cancer, told The Associated Press that Chavez’s prognosis looks grim.
“It’s behaving like a sarcoma, and sarcoma doesn’t forgive,” he said, and added that the cancer could potentially spread to the lungs and other areas, significantly worsening Chavez’s chances for survival.
“We knew this was going to happen,” Castro said. “This isn’t good.”
Michael Pishvaian, an oncologist with Georgetown University’s Lombardi Cancer Center, confirmed with AP that Chavez’s situation will likely get worse.
If Chavez is too sick to carry out his presidential duties, the vice president will then have to assume office until a new presidential term on Jan. 10. And if Chavez cannot attend the inauguration on that same date, the president National Assembly legislative body will take over and arrange elections in 30 days, reported Business Week, citing the Venezuelan constitution.
“He names Maduro as his successor and says people should vote for him--not the words of a man that is sure he is going to live long or even be back for the inauguration on the 10th,” said Russ Dallen, the head bond trader at Caracas Capital Markets in Venezuela, told the publication.
“He put an end to the speculation and intrigue going on about succession,” he added.
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