The End of Chavismo As We Know It?

Ray Walser at The Foundry:

The End of Chavismo As We Know It?

Since 1999,Venezuelahas continued sliding deeper into authoritarianism, populism, militarism, and anti-Americanism. Displaying formidable skills in winning elections, demagoguery, and public showmanship, Hugo Chavez has dominated Venezuela’s polarized politics and run his country as a personal fiefdom for more than a decade.

This situation may be about to change. In the past two years, two things have occurred to make one think differently about Venezuela. The first was the announcement in mid-2011 that Chavez is suffering from an undisclosed but aggressive cancer. The second was selection of a single opposition candidate—Henri Capriles Radonski—in February 2012 to stand against Chavez in the October presidential election.

Faced with a serious electoral challenge, Chavez has been commuting back and forth to Havanasince February. Physical evidence and steady outpourings of the rumor factory say that despite three surgeries and other treatments, Chavez’s health continues to deteriorate. Incapacity and/or death appear increasingly probable within months. Recent tearful public appearances by Chavez, including prayers for a miraculous recovery, add credence to the assumption.

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