Punto Fijo, December 13th, 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan government officials announced on Wednesday that President Chavez’s recovery from cancer surgery would be “complex and difficult”, an announcement that has created uncertainty in Venezuela about what will happen if Chavez cannot be sworn in for his new term on January 10th.
Vice-president Nicolas Maduro made the announcement yesterday on television, noting that Tuesday’s operation was “delicate” and warned that the recovery process would be equally “complex and difficult”.
Maduro also warned that the country should be “prepared to confront a difficult scenario” and called on the people to pray for the president.
Communications Minister Ernesto Villegas also made an announcement later in the day, reiterating the difficulty of Chavez’s recovery and calling on the people to “be prepared” in case he cannot be sworn in for his new term as president on January 10th.
However, more details on the president’s condition have not been provided, leading many to speculate about his health, and question what will happen if Chavez is not able to return to Venezuela for the swearing-in next month.
Opposition spokespeople have claimed the situation is critical and that the president will be unable to return.
Jose Marquina, famous for his speculative claims about Chavez’s cancer, has claimed that the president underwent a vertebrectomy, the removal of vertebrae, and that bone grafts and screws were inserted into the spinal column.
Nelson Bocaranda, also known for past rumours about the situation, echoed Marquina’s claim, saying the operation was to the spine, and that high government officials had already decided that Chavez would not return for the January 10th inauguration.
Various opposition leaders have claimed that if Chavez cannot return for the inauguration, that it should be considered an “absolute absence” (Article 233 of the constitution) and that new elections should be called within 30 days.
“If Chavez doesn’t take possession of the presidency on January 10th then things could get complicated,” said opposition pundit Teodoro Petkoff.
“In that situation, the president of the national assembly assumes power, and must call for elections within one month,” he said, assuring that the opposition is “prepared” and already “has their candidate” for president.
Other opposition leaders, however, have called on their followers to not speculate about the situation, and to stop wishing for bad things to happen to President Chavez.
“I don’t agree with all this speculation and interpretations of the constitution, because the country is going to see us as a bunch of swarming vultures,” said opposition politician Ismael Garcia.
Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma also said that people “should not speculate about anyone’s health,” and called on the opposition to “be compassionate and not wish harm to anyone”.
Government officials have not said what will happen if Chavez is unable to return to take possession on January 10th, only assuring that he will return soon.
The Venezuelan constitution defines an “absolute absence” of the president as death, resignation, or physical or mental incapacity as determined by a medical committee, in which case new elections must be called within 30 days. However, in the case of a “temporary absence” the president is to be substituted by the vice-president for up to 90 days.
Another government announcement on Thursday afternoon said that President Chavez was in a stable condition but would require a “reasonable time” for recovery given the “complexity of the operation, and also due to complications during the surgery.”
It was also announced that “specific additional treatments” would be applied to aid in the recovery process.