Today we were presented with another video which certainly convinces people that Hugo Chavez is alive, but he is definitely not well. You may want to watch the whole thing, but it is boring, here it is, for all you masochists or Chavologists out there:
The video is certainly made to convince us that Chavez is fine, showing him talking this time around and reading the headlines as “proof of life”, but the President is certainly thinner, less energetic and definitely recovering from something. What it is, is anybody’s guess at this time, but he disappeared for 18 days and right now he is still not well enough to either address the Nation or hold the Summit to celebrate Venezuela bicentennial next week on July 5th. That is a total recovery time of 24 days total, not common in surgery even for very serious procedures unless there is a follow up treatment that knocks you out. The Summit has been officially cancelled, even if Chavez could still try to show up for the military parade that day.
And as La Patilla showed, a key fact about the President’s health is seen in the first few seconds of the video above, when Chavez is shown walking out of the building followed by a wheelchair, the speculation being that he got out of it right before the video began. You can also see the wheelchair in the distance in minute 3:20 or so of the video. But here it is in the first few seconds of the video:
since Chavez is walking towards Fidel and greets him later in the video, it follows that he was brought out in the chair and it was kept nearby just in case and to move him around in the parts of the meeting between Fidel Castro and Chavez which are not shown in the video.
What is clear is that, as I suggested a couple of days ago, Chavez has been very ill, is recovering and receiving “strict medical treatment” as stated in the press release cancelling the Summit. The videos seem aimed more at Chavismo than the rest of the world, sort of sending the message he is still around, don’t stir the pot and follow the party line or else.
But there is no question that things will be different if Chavez’s illness is chronic or serious and will diminish his ability to campaign and/or run the country. This changes the game. With a Chavez with diminished popularity, the upcoming campaign already required his full attention and convincing the people to vote for him. If what he has is a long term problem, and his three week disappearance indicates that whatever it is, it is not trivial, then not only his supporters, but his collaborators will begin questioning whether he should be or not the revolution’s candidate in 2012. This in itself may result in a weaker effort by Chavez’ supporters, worried about their long term future and stability and the possible demise of the Bolivarian revolution.
In fact, this proof of Chavez’ life, resulted in another rally in the country’s debt today. A weakened Chavez is better than no Chavez at all, which would lead to uncertainty and a possibly chaotic future for the country between now and December 2012. And the possibility of a Chavez exit after December 2012, kept investors bullish about the prospects for the country’s debt.