Mass Rally Marks Chavez’s Symbolic Presidential Inauguration

By Jack Phillips
Epoch Times Staff
Created: January 10, 2013 Last Updated: January 13, 2013
Related articles: World » South America
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Supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gather outside the presidential palace in Caracas on January 10. (Raul Arboleda/AFP/Getty Images)

Supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gather outside the presidential palace in Caracas on January 10. (Raul Arboleda/AFP/Getty Images)

President Hugo Chavez did not attend his inauguration ceremony which was originally scheduled for Thursday, but tens of thousands of his supporters amassed in the Venezuelan capital Caracas.

The Venezuelan Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Chavez’s inauguration could be delayed. Chavez has spent the past month infirmed in a Cuban hospital following a surgical procedure to deal with cancer, which reportedly caused complications.

Vice-President Nicolas Maduro, in a speech in front of supporters at mass rally criticized members of the opposition for their “fascist persecution” against Venezuelans who support Chavez.

The opposition said that Chavez must attend his inauguration on Thursday, citing the constitution, but the pro-Chavez National Assembly delayed his inauguration, going in tandem with the Supreme Court decision, reported The Associated Press.

A coalition of elected opposition members issued a statement that the executive branch “will be in the hands of the vice-president and other officials, who have not been by any means elected the people’s vote. Their term in office expires today (January 10) as well as that of the president of Venezuela,” according to El Universal.

Maria Corina Machado, an opposition legislator, described the move to delay Chavez’s inauguration as a “well-aimed coup against the Venezuelan Constitution,” she told the Associated Press. “It’s being directed from Cuba, and by Cubans,” she said.

There have also been claims by the opposition that the Venezuelan government has not been forthcoming in giving out details about the ailing leader’s health. Since mid-2011, Chavez underwent a number of cancer treatment procedures.

The NGO Transparency Venezuela said that the government has to provide more information to the public about Chavez’s health.

“The health of our rulers can have an impact on our lives and in managing public affairs,” it said, according to Venezuelan broadcaster Globovision. According to the broadcaster the situation should not “require an act of faith on the part of citizens.”

Opposition politicians have said that they will organize protests on Jan. 23, which is the anniversary of the end of Venezuela’s dictatorship in 1958, El Universal reported.

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