December 29, 2012

Venezuelan VP leaving to visit Chavez in Cuba

A legal fight is brewing over what should happen if the president cannot take office on Jan. 10.

By FABIOLA SANCHEZ The Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro announced Friday night that he was traveling to Cuba to visit President Hugo Chavez, who is recovering from cancer surgery in Havana.

Maduro said during the inauguration of a state governor that he and other government officials would fly to Cuba late Friday. He did not specify how long he would be away but said Energy Minister Hector Navarro would be in charge of government affairs meanwhile.

Maduro's trip comes amid growing uncertainty about Chavez's health.

The Venezuelan leader has not been seen or heard from since undergoing his fourth cancer-related surgery Dec. 11, and government officials have said he might not return in time for his scheduled Jan. 10 inauguration for a new six-year term. There have been no updates on Chavez's condition since Maduro announced Monday night that he had received a phone call from the president who was up and walking.

Maduro is the highest ranking Venezuelan official to visit Chavez since the surgery. Bolivian President Evo Morales traveled to Cuba last weekend in a quick trip that only added to the uncertainty surrounding Chavez's condition. Morales has not commented publicly on his visit or even confirmed that he saw Chavez while there.

Earlier Friday, Maduro read a New Year message from Chavez to Venezuelan troops, though it was unclear when the president composed it.

"I have had to battle again for my health," Chavez said in the message. He expressed "complete faith in the commitment and loyalty that the revolutionary armed forces are showing me in this very complicated and difficult moment."

A group of opposition candidates demanded Friday that Maduro provide an official medical report on Chavez's health. Lawmaker Dinorah Figuera said the country needs "a medical report from those who are responsible for the diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of the president."

"The Venezuelan people deserve official and institutional information," Figuera told Venezuelan media.

Before leaving for Cuba, Chavez acknowledged the precariousness of his situation and designated Maduro as his successor, telling supporters they should vote for the vice president if a new presidential election was necessary.

A legal fight is brewing over what should happen if Chavez, who was re-elected in October, cannot return in time for the inauguration before the National Assembly.

National Assembly leader Diosdado Cabello insisted Monday that Venezuela's constitution allows the president to take the oath before the Supreme Court at any time if he cannot do it Jan. 10.

Opposition leaders argue the constitution requires that new elections be held within 30 days if Chavez cannot take office Jan. 10. They have criticized the confusion over the inauguration as the latest example of the Chavez government's disdain for democratic rule of law and have demanded clarity on whether the president is fit to govern.

 

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)