01/24/13 - Businessweek - Venezuela VP Maduro Arrives in Havana to Visit Ailing
Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro arrived in Havana yesterday to receive
instructions from cancer-stricken President Hugo Chavez on a regional summit
taking place this week.
Maduro and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez were greeted at the airport in the Cuban
capital by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua, Venezuelan Attorney General
Cilia Flores and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, the Telesur network
reported on its website.
The vice president last visited Chavez on the communist island a week ago and
will head to Chile later this week for the Community of Latin American and
Caribbean States summit.
"President Chavez is closing a post-operative cycle," Maduro said in an
interview broadcast last night on Russian state network RT before he flew to
Cuba. "He's climbing back up the crest of the hill, battling and has lived the
best days after the operation."
Maduro spoke at a political rally yesterday in Caracas to commemorate the 1958
downfall of dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez. Thousands of supporters dressed in
the red shirts of Chavez's "21st century revolution" gathered in western Caracas
in a show of allegiance to their 58-year-old leader, who hasn't been seen or
heard from since stepping off a plane last month in Cuba to undergo his fourth
Chavez's fragile health prevented him from attending his own swearing-in
ceremony for a new term Jan. 10 after the Dec. 11 operation caused a lung
infection and hemorrhaging.
Bolivian President Evo Morales said Jan. 22 Chavez is doing physiotherapy in
order to return to Venezuela. No date has yet been set for him to land in
Caracas as he continues to face a "tough, complex health battle," Information
Minister Ernesto Villegas said Jan. 22.
"We're always optimistic" about Chavez coming back to Venezuela, Maduro said
yesterday in the interview on the RT network, without providing a timeline for
the leader's return.
Before traveling to Cuba, Chavez anointed Maduro as his successor, urging
Venezuelans to vote for the 50-year-old former bus driver and labor union leader
should he die or step down because of his health.
Maduro, who has been running affairs in Chavez's absence, said at the rally the
Venezuelan opposition is trying to sew discord between him and National Assembly
President Diosdado Cabello.
He said authorities uncovered a plot to assassinate him and Cabello and warned
the government will come down with a "hard hand on anyone who violates the
constitution and the country's peace."
Should Chavez die or step down before completing a third six-year term, the
constitution states elections must be held within 30 days.
Opposition parties are ready for elections and will choose a presidential
candidate by consensus, Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, the head of the opposition
alliance known as the Democratic Unity Table, said at a smaller rally in eastern
The recent news regarding Chavez's health has raised hopes among his supporters
that Chavez may be able to retake the helm of the country he's ruled for 14
years. Pedro Castro, a 36-year- old computer technician said he attended the
pro-Chavez rally to show support for Chavez and his government.
Chavez's health "is in good hands," Castro said. "He's coming back reloaded.
Chavez will be around for a while."
Maria Leal, a seamstress wearing a red t-shirt and red cap at the rally, said
that in Chavez's absence Maduro could take power.
"There's no one like Chavez, but in his absence, why not?" she said.
To contact the reporters on this story: Charlie Devereux in Caracas at
firstname.lastname@example.org; Corina Pons in Caracas at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andre Soliani at
Original Source / Fuente Original:
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