Deccan Herald: Venezuela’s missing President
Alberto Barrera Tyszka, Jan 25, 2013, IHT
On January 10, while Hugo Chávez lay in a hospital bed in Havana, he was symbolically sworn in as Venezuela’s new president in a ceremony here.
The crowd that attended his virtual inauguration was moved to tears by a recording of Chávez’s singing the national anthem. The country is experiencing the very odd circumstance of being both with and without its leader; he is not here, but his voice endures.
From the intensive care unit, the president “continues to perform his duties”; he gives orders and sends kisses to children. This is what his vice president says. According to the Supreme Court, the Congress cannot consider him absent, for no matter how ill he is, only Chávez himself has the authority to declare himself absent. The opposition is demanding a “fe de vida” — proof that he is still alive, as if he were a kidnapping victim. Day after day, on the street, on Twitter, our president dies and comes back to life. But this is not a magical realist novel.
After 14 years as president, Chávez controls all public powers: the legislative body, the Supreme Court, the public prosecutor’s office, to say nothing of the oil industry. Of all those who have held office since the end of the military dictatorship in 1958, none has concentrated power quite as Chávez has. From the moment he won his first election, he knew that he had not made it to the presidency in order to run a sound government. He had come to change the course of history. In the name of the dispossessed, he revived the ghost of the South American military caudillo, creating a new version of that traditional strongman. He sings ranchera songs on Sunday and negotiates with Iran on Monday. As president he deftly combines power with melodrama…..Read More
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