Archive for June 26th, 2011

Looking backwards and forward at Chavez’ absence

June 26, 2011

By now, the media and the country are full of rumors and tips about Chavez health. While few believe Wikileaks Argentina’s story that the President passed away, one can’t help but wonder what Foreign Minister Maduro meant by saying “Chavez battles for his life” or why Chavez’ mother said “I pray to God that he heals him fast and brings him back”.

In Venezuela, people go back and forth between Chavez’ demise and the other extreme, that this is just a ploy to bring back a triumphant and healthy Chavez as a way to prop back his popularity.

I subscribe to neither of these scenarios. I think that we are simply playing out the same scenario that led me to write a post on May 29th. , that received little attention. Now, I did not write that post because I had a vision, a particularly insight or anything of the sort, I wrote it because I received information that Chavez had something which was not the knee, it was something debilitating, something very painful, but not something fatal. This simply meant that the upcoming presidential campaign would have a diminished Chavez, which given his lower popularity and increasing protests would imply the opposition had a better chance that I give it credit for.

What seems to have happened since then is that there were sequels from the operation which have made Chavez’ condition worse, from an infection of the wound to a possible expansion of the cancerous prostate. This last part I have been unable to confirm, but it does not change the outlook dramatically. Removal of the prostate and the cancer related to it and it surrounding is not something that causes death in 90-plus percent of the cases. Chavez is relatively young (younger than me, thus young in my book), which is both good (stronger), but also bad (tumors speaed faster in younger people).

Thus, to me things look the same as they did two weeks ago, there are complications, but so far, the original story given to me is true: he has a debilitating, painful and likely non-fatal illness which will diminish his physical and likely mental ability to develop his typical frontal, twenty four hour, seven days a week campaign that he has done in the past. This weakens him at a time of weak popularity and as I said in the comments, it is a game changer.

There is also now the theory that this is simply a ploy to bring back a triumphant Chavez. While Chavismo may be thinking about that, I don’t believe for a minute that this was the original plan.The reasons are many.

To begin with, there is no question that Chavez has been ill. He was absent form the media in May, had a cane and talked about a knee problem. As I said in my first post on the subject, a painful knee does not stop you from sitting in front of a camera and give a speech, even a short one if you are taking very strong pain killers.

The subsequent events after May also don’t fit this picture. We saw no picture with Lula, but they clearly met. He then left for a meeting with Brazil’s President and he looked better, still using a cane. Then came the news from Cuba. If the ploy to bring back a resurgent Chavez began then and his operation there was fake, why have him speak for twenty minutes on Sunday June 12th., only to later silence him? Why turn twitter on and off in bursts that do exactly the opposite of their intent?

Chavze also missed too many chances to blast the enemies, when PDVSA received sanctions from the US Government or to say something about his Comptroller, who died in Cuba a week ago, or the 190th. anniversary of the Battle that seal Venezuela’s independence which was last Friday.

It may be that now that he is getting better this is what they are thinking of doing, but they have to be pretty sure that a) Chavez will recover by a certain date, July 5th. the 200th. anniversary of our Independence and b) that Chavez will look fine then. It does not appear they are.

In fact, the most damaging comment was Adan Chavez’ (his brother) comment saying Chavez would be back in ten or twelve days. Such a specific period implies a medical opinion, a procedure that last that long, otherwise you would say the President will be back whenever he wants or something like that.

And then we got the statements from Maduro and Chavez’ mother about his health. From Maduro I would belive a ploy, but to involve Chavez’ mother, I simply don’t buy it. He is sick, recovering and we will see him at some point.

That’s my take.