The Curious Downfall of the Heir Apparent to Hugo Chavez

December 17, 2011

It was one of the biggest political surprises of the last few months, if not years, when Hugo Chavez announced that his Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, would be the candidate for Governor of Carabobo State in 2012. Maduro had been considered Chavez’ heir apparent if it became necessary for the Venezuelan President to step aside in 2012 due to health reasons. In fact, many people, including yours truly, believed that Chavez would name Maduro as his Vice-President some time in the very near future, replacing Elias Jaua, who is not popular among various Chavista factions.

That all was not well in Maduro-land was barely noticeable last week when his wife, Cilia Flores, was replaced in the leadership of Chavez’ political party PSUV by none other than Diosdado Cabello, once also considered Chavez’  clear successor. But Flores had been in the doghouse for a while, as she had been removed early in 2011, before Chavez’ illness surfaced, as President of the Venezuelan National Assembly.

It was unclear why the sudden change of heart for Maduro, who had been acting in roles beyond that of Foreign Minister, including being the main speaker at a service held for Hugo Chavez in Manhattan and being part of the commission studying the changes to the new Labor Law. Maduro was also the only Cabinet Minister to go back and forth between Caracas and La Habana, when Hugo Chavez received treatment for his cancer in that city between June and September.

Chavez’ announcement was made the day after Maduro received an ovation that apparently irked the President, but I am sure there is much more to the story. For now, Chavez is in the search for a new Vice-President, with most betting that it will remain all in the family with his son in law, Jorge Arreaza, the current Minister of Science and Technology, being named Vice-President early in 2012*. His current Vice-President Elias Jaua, had already been nominated as candidate for Governor of Miranda State by Chavez a few months ago in what was believed to be an elegant way of disposing of Jaua.

Chavez is making daily changes to his entourage, with rumors that new important military appointments will be made soon. For now, none of the groups fighting for power feels they hold in a solid position, as the downfall of the heir apparent may simply be a signal by Chavez that he has yet to make his mind up. When he does, Maduro may be back, in another sideways move by the Venezuelan President.

*I don’t think that Arreaza can be Vice-President if I understand what “parentesco por afinidad” means in Art. 238 of the Venezuelan Constitution, which bans the VP from being related by blood and/or affinity to the President. I believe, but I am not 100% sure that Chavez is related to Arreaza by affinity.

40 Responses to “The Curious Downfall of the Heir Apparent to Hugo Chavez”

  1. who needs to get saved today in venezuela?

  2. GWEH Says:

    Venezuela will go the way of Egypt followed by Syria unless int’l community steps in which is very likely but depends on the opposition. You’re gonna have to make some noise. Too many variables… Castro bros. is one… Fidel has to also croak.

    • GWEH Says:

      the Cubans have to take their eye off the ball and the only way I see that happening is Fidel croaking. Two things will happen: the cubans are recalled to shore things back home or Venezuela becomes the cuban liferaft. Don’t worry, the warmongering gringos will be there (this time) to apply 21st century Monroe Doctrine

  3. GWEH Says:

    BTW, I’m with Miguel that patient zero dies in the spring. IMO there will be no presidential elections next year… the conditions are not met on either side.

  4. GWEH Says:

    Maduro was not part of the recent heavy Moscow delegation… that was my cue

    • Kepler. Says:

      Which delegation, Gweh? Are you referring to one this year?
      Last year he was with Hugo. There was also something very strange: they went from Moscow to Minsk, they visited there some “casas modelo” (you can watch on youtube Maduro nodding at his owner like a puppet) and then they flew back to Venezuela. The next day or so, Maduro flew back to Minsk “to discuss some details with Lukashenko”.

      That is completely mental! How chaotic can they be to have a man cross the ocean and fly again just the next day to discuss things?

      I read the Belarussian press during that time. I commented that in my Spanish blog. Between the lines the article showed Maduro was nervous, was sent to fix something, see that a promise be kept, and Lukashenko was all reassuring.

      My hunch: the housing project…which, as one of the few cool journalists at El Universal reported, is a particular failure on the Belorussian side.

      Still: Maduro has some chances in Carabobo if only because the Salas-Feo are such a bunch of arrogant feudal lords who don’t cooperate with the rest of the opposition and who don’t know how to talk to Jose Rodríguez Pacheco from Miguel Pena or Tocuyito.

      • GWEH Says:

        a few weeks ago… many ministers and heavies (Jaua, Giordani, Ramirez, top brass)…our guy was there and he saw them… coincidence? 🙂

      • GWEH Says:

        they don’t have secure communications thus the need for couriers and messengers when discussing really bad shit

      • GWEH Says:

        how many times has Chavez passed on his Airbus or even Fidel’s Ilyushin because he thought ‘the americans’ (western intelligence agencies) planted bugs (or bombs) the result of security lapse during foreign stay? More than once

  5. I have no idea if Arreaza can be a successor or not…but I do know this, since WHEN do these people care about what the law allows or doesn’t?? This is a major problem with the opposition…it still believes that things will be done according to the law! Then when they get screwed by the government not following them they are all surprised and outraged. Chavistas do not abide by them, and I would suggest that the opposition don’t either except of course that the chavistas are in a position to call the opposition out on it when they break the law, the opposition on the other hand does not have that option since it will fall on the deaf ears of the courts. Then of course there’s is the ” We don’t want to stoop down to their level” reason, which is fine, but lets not expect them to follow the laws and then act surprised when they don’t. There is only one way to express this continued belief that chavismo will be ruled by the laws…HASTA CUANDO??

    • captainccs Says:

      Manual, it had to be said: “¿¿HASTA CUANDO??” will the oppo believe in “¿¿PAJARITOS PREÑADOS??”

      The only one getting “PREÑADO” is the oppo!

    • Javier ( notiven ) Says:

      Or MUD could be proactive by saying from now,and telling the CNE now that is has been public and notorious that MAduro has not lived long enough in Carabobo to be a candidate in the next elections. If you wait until his nomination and then go to the courts the courts will not answer and by then even if he does not win, it doesn’t matter because as I mentioned above the idea is to polarize and take votes from the MUD’s candidate in the presidential electios

      • moctavio Says:

        I dont think Chavismo cares too much for the Governor elections, if they lose the Presidential one, the rats jumping off the ship will be a stampede, all that matters is the Presidential race, after that, we shall see.

      • captainccs Says:

        No need to wait for MUD. Get it on the blogosphere and in the social media and in the press. We need more private party activism and not expect much from MUD or any other “official” entity.

        Make “we, the people” count!

    • megaescualidus Says:

      “the opposition…it still believes that things will be done according to the law!”

      I don´t agree 100%. I´m pretty sure that by now the opposition realices they´re not playing in a leveled playing field: anything in the law can be applied to undermine them whereas for HC playing legally is just optional.

      • Unfortunately I I would have to disagree. Quoting the constitution and saying that so and so can’t do a certain thing because it is against the constitution, or calling chavistas out on an issue and saying they violate a certain law is exactly what someone does when they still believe that the power of the law still applies.

        I completely agree with you in that the opposition realizes that the laws can be used against them (since they are basically created at will to counteract any oppositions action and/or ignored to achieve the same effect) but too much effort is wasted complaining about that fact. When the opposition complains about chavistas ignoring the law its like talking to a wall since the courts are useless and nothing will be done to punish the ones that ignored the law or correct the wrongdoing.

        So in my view when something happens where the chavistas ignore laws or invent new ones to screw the opposition I say forget about arguing with them…just keep pushing forward to try to find a way to get rid of these idiots.

        If you have seen the movie Wag the Dog you know exactly what I mean. Get accused of molesting a firefly girl? Invent a war! You get accused of having billions of dollars missing from PDVSA? Start arguing who can be governor! And so on…

  6. Dr. Faustus Says:

    Oh my. Kim Jong Il just died. And,….and,…guess who was his “heir apparent?” His son.

    For most dictatorships look toward a son or relative to be named as ‘heir apparent.’ On that point, I fully agree with Moctavio when he brings a new face to the table,….Jorge Arreanza. It just makes sense. It’s logical. It’s kinda like Napoleon. Many of his brothers ruled different parts of his kingdom. He thus sought out a voluptious Habsburg to bear him a son,….which she did. The KIng of Rome. Napoleon would have crowned him at Notre Dame, had he just had time to grow up a little. For Napoleon, it never worked out for him. He met his Waterloo first. It probably won’t with Arreanza as well.

  7. Kepler. Says:

    Unfortunately Javier is right. The Salas-Feo clan is more of a hindrance for us than anything, but somehow people have got stuck with them because “it’s either them or Chavismo”.

  8. Javier ( notiven ) Says:

    Sending and then supporting Maduro to Carabobo is a way to divide the Carabobo people. Because gvernor elections come after the presidential elections, when a popular Maduro is promoting his candidacy he is promoting Chave’z presidency too So a big state where the MUD’s candidate could have a big vote difference to help the national results, will not be so

  9. bruni Says:

    So Miguel, who is your next guess?

    • moctavio Says:

      It’s hard to guess. He has to be loyal and radical and be well known, at least as well as Maduro. None fit the bill now, my best guess is Diosdado may be the man or Jose Vicente.

      • moder Says:

        Few things seem to turn the president on more than zigging when everyone expects him to zag, so while most analysts are betting on him to pull a name such as Diosdado, JVR or Izarra out of the hat I’d say he’ll go for some low-profile military figure (any one of those currently in charge of some obscure public institution)…

        Bear with me for a sec: these non-thinkers are bred to follow orders, and in case Chavez’s health deteriorates, he could step off the presidency as some sort of hero and leave this sock puppet as a placeholder for a few months, while Chavez keeps calling the shots a la Fidel/Putin/Lula from some bed in Barinas or La Habana. Adan would be named vice-president and either be handed the top spot as soon as Hugo kicks the bucket, or become PSUV’s presidential candidate with Hugo’s full support (if the cancer allows him to live that far, that is).

  10. moctavio Says:

    This says it all:

  11. Cort Greene Says:

    Glad to see it, I know the grassroots, many trade unions and socialists had wished he had never been appointed and he messed up even while he was just a trade unionist back in the day.

    He has wrecked the diplomatic corps and he has conducted foreign policy like any other nationalist and similar to the US and other countries.

    Food for thought for those who have forgotten that foreign policy ( which is an extension of domestic policy) should be conducted with proletarian internationalism by those who profess to be socialists not a policy of bourgeois nationalism where the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” and by backing dictators who practice repression and murder against the working class and the oppressed.

    “The revolutionary [is] the ideological motor force of the revolution…if he forgets his proletarian internationalism, the revolution which he leads will cease to be an inspiring force and he will sink into a comfortable lethargy, which imperialism, our irreconcilable enemy, will utilize well. Proletarian internationalism is a duty, but it is also a revolutionary necessity. So we educate our people.”

    – Che Guevara

    Rojo Rojito


    • Kepler. Says:

      Have the cojones to live the socialist dream: migrate to North Korea. Your comments are of no use. Che Guevara was a burgeois, fucking racist, who wanted to play “the revolutionary”, he kept being a son of daddy. With your “proletarian revolution” (and you are far away from being a proletarian) you really sound like a Jehova witness.
      The Chavez regime is nothing but a buncho of military thugs desperately clinging to power.

    • captainccs Says:

      Good grief! :roll eyes:

    • moctavio Says:

      That is all the revolution does, wreck, led by the main wrecker, Hugo. Go to another country for your revolution, there is none here, just a mess.

  12. Kepler. Says:

    Miguel, I am trying to find out about the requisites for a governor. I thought initially that the governor of a state had to be in that state for 5 years prior to the election. I checked out on Wikipedia and it says so:

    but I haven’t found (yet, just took a quick look) the same thing on the constitution. If it were so, we can prove Maduro hasn’t been living in Carabobo. In any case: this signals probably Chávez is indeed healthy/healthier now. In any case, Carabobo is not sure for us, the Salas-Feo clan is not very effective, incredibly selfish and doesn’t have the down-to-earth attitude of Capriles.

    • moctavio Says:

      Even if you can prove it, so? The TSJ and the CNE will never answer you. The current President of the National Assembly lost the primary in his State, Chavez named him to the slate somewhere else in the country.

      • Kepler. Says:

        I know, but it is about documenting, just like all the rest.

        What I see is this: if we can prove it, we should send the proof to the foreign press with open letter to the regime.

        • moder Says:

          Speaking of Carababao, anyone remember who the last PSUV candidate in that state was?

          Sure, it was illegal (not to mention ridiculous and indignant) to have such a waste of skin run for governor of a state where he clearly didn’t live, but that didn’t stop CNE from validating his candidacy… don’t expect it to be any different this time around with the chofer de carrito.

  13. bbb Says:

    It’s not complicated — these politicos are now known/recognized nationally and will stand a much better chance in regional elections. If they lose, they will find themselves back in the cabinet or other high positions. There is no drama here. Expect Cilia to run for governor in some other state.

    • moctavio Says:

      It is complicated, Hugo needs a succesor much faster than most people think.

      • captainccs Says:

        Hugo does not need a successor, the surviving Chavistas do! What would Chavistas do if Hugo didn’t tell them who to follow? Will they have themselves a war of succession? Will this war be the ballot box type or the AK-47 type? Even if Hugo names a successor, can he avoid the coming war of succession? Won’t Adan or some other hot-head want to take control?

        It is complicated! Expect a shoot-out in the Not OK Corral. 😉

        • megaescualidus Says:

          I hadn´t thought about it in those terms: “Hugo does not need a successor, the surviving Chavistas do!”

          What kind of leader is HC? When he passes will he have designated the best successor to perpetuate his legacy, or will this successor simply be the greatest “jala mecate” of his entourage, or will there be a designated successor at all?

          Does HC care about Chavismo after him? Judging from his modus operandi through the last 13 years I´d almost answer right away with a resounding no. I´d think he only cares and cared for him to perpetuate in power as much as possible, to the point where choosing a successor may have never been in his radar.

          In any case, I´m counting the months. Pretty soon I´ll even have a brand new bottle of Aniversario ready for to celebrate the occasion. Am I rushing it?

          • captainccs Says:

            megaescualidus, believe it or not, I had a similar situation in my family. My dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer and he knew he was dying. There were some unfortunate “enmities” in the family which would have caused a sharp feud for the lack of a will. My dad didn’t think he needed one, he told me so. Fortunately my mom prevailed and he had one drawn up. Even with the will there was a feud but at least we had guidelines to help solve the problems.

            Imagine the size of the “feud” with the mega-powers and the mega-riches HC leaves behind. Chavistas won’t be following JFK’s advice: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

  14. captainccs Says:

    Chavez does not have friends, just pawns, disposable pawns. Just amass as much wealth as you can while the going is good. I keep running into people working for the government and not one of them does it but for the money. The only true blue (or is it true red?) chavistas I have seen are either young punks or homeless drunks.

  15. Mike Says:

    Looks similar when Fidel got rid of Carlos Lage and Felipe Perez Rojas, Fidel stating that both were tasting the honey of power without any sacrifice.
    Something’s up and it has a crackling sound….
    In any case, Thank God that bus driver and Fanfarrón par excellence Maduro has been cut to size, just like Felipito at the time.

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