Tell us the whole truth about Chavez, says Venezuela’s opposition

Venezuela's opposition has demanded the government tell "the whole truth" about the health of cancer-stricken President Hugo Chavez, who has not been heard from in three weeks after undergoing a gruelling operation in Cuba.

Officials acknowledged the usually garrulous former soldier's health was delicate after his fourth cancer surgery in 18 months, but they offered scant details on his condition.

He has not spoken in public in more than three weeks.

Ramon Aveledo, head of the opposition Democratic Unity coalition, on Wednesday slammed the government for not keeping its word about keeping Venezuelans informed.

"The official version [of Chavez's health] hides more information than it gives," Aveledo said at a press conference.

"The vice-president himself has promised to tell the truth, whatever it is. Fine, he should tell it. He should tell the whole truth," said Aveledo.

Complex condition
Vice-President Nicolas Maduro, whom Chavez last month designated as his heir apparent, on Tuesday said in an interview from Havana that Chavez had recognised the complexity of his post-operative condition.

Maduro said he was returning to Venezuela after several days visiting with Chavez and his relatives, which may quell rumors his trip to Cuba signaled the president was in his final days.

The president's son-in-law and Science Minister Jorge Arreaza, who is in Havana, said via his Twitter account on Wednesday that the medical team told him Chavez's condition "remains stable" but that his health was still delicate.

"Commander Chavez is fighting hard and he sends his love to the people. Dedication and patience!!!" he tweeted.


Chavez's abrupt exit from the political scene would be a shock for Venezuela, where his oil-financed socialism has made him a hero to the poor majority but a nemesis to critics who call him a dictator.

He is still set to be sworn in on January 10, as laid out in the Constitution. If he dies or steps aside, new elections would be held within 30 days, with Maduro running as the Socialist Party candidate.

Delicate health
Chavez suffered unexpected bleeding and a respiratory infection after a six-hour operation on December 11. Terse official statements have said nothing about when he might be expected back or whether his life is in danger.

The government has provided none of the signature videos or pictures released after Chavez was diagnosed with cancer in June 2011 and his relapse in 2012. And allies have refused to discuss the possibility that he could hand over power or resign.

Chavez last year staged what appeared to be remarkable comeback from the disease to win reelection to a third six-year term in October despite being weakened by radiation therapy. He returned to Cuba for new treatment within weeks of his win.

Officials from the ruling Socialist Party are now suggesting his inauguration could be postponed indefinitely to accommodate his health.

Aveledo insisted the government should stick to the January 10 timeline called for in the Constitution.

"Trying to make the country believe that the president is governing is absurd to the point of being irresponsible," he said. "January 10 marks the end of one presidential term and the start of another. As such, there is no continuation of the current government."

Hand over power
Aveledo said if Chavez cannot make it back in time, he should hand power over to the president of Congress – who would temporarily run the country while elections are called.

Congress, controlled by Chavez allies, on Saturday elects a new president. Current Congress chief Diosdado Cabello, a close Chavez ally who could be reelected to head the legislature, has at times been considered a rival of Maduro. The two have taken great pains in recent weeks to publicly deny this.

While the Constitution cites January 10 as the start of the new term, it does not explicitly state what happens if the president does not take office on that date.

Chavez's condition is being watched closely by Latin American countries that have benefited from his generous assistance, as well as Wall Street investors who are drawn to Venezuela's lucrative and heavily traded bonds. – Reuters

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertising

ConCourt settles the law on the public protector and interim...

The Constitutional Court said it welcomed robust debate but criticised the populist rhetoric in the battle between Busisiwe Mkhwebane and Minister Pravin Gordhan

Where is the deputy president?

David Mabuza is hard at work — it’s just not taking place in the public eye. The rumblings and discussion in the ANC are about factions in the ruling party, succession and ousting him
Advertising

Press Releases

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

Wills, Estate Administration and Succession Planning Webinar

Capital Legacy has had no slowdown in lockdown regarding turnaround with clients, in storing or retrieving wills and in answering their questions

Call for Expression of Interest: Training supply and needs assessment to support the energy transition in South Africa

GIZ invites eligible and professional companies with local presence in South Africa to participate in this tender to support the energy transition

Obituary: Mohammed Tikly

His legacy will live on in the vision he shared for a brighter more socially just future, in which racism and discrimination are things of the past

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday