Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, preparing to travel to Cuba for further cancer surgery, yesterday named Vice President Nicolas Maduro to carry out his legacy if he is unable to remain in office.
Chavez, who spoke in a national television and radio address, said he requires more surgery after malignant cells were detected in the same area as his previous cancer during health exams held over the past month in Cuba. The National Assembly today approved his request to be absent from the country for more than five days as he travels to the Caribbean island.
“There is risk in this process that you can’t deny,” said Chavez, who won re-election to a third six-year term on Oct. 7. “If something happens that disables me some way, my irrevocable opinion is that you should elect Nicolas Maduro as the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”
Under Venezuelan law, if Chavez is too ill to carry out his duties, the vice president would take over until the beginning of the new presidential term on Jan. 10. If Chavez is unable to attend the inauguration scheduled on that date, the president of the National Assembly would assume power while elections are arranged within 30 days. If he does take office and then becomes too ill within the first four years of the term, the vice president takes over the presidency for 30 days while elections are held.
“He put an end to the speculation and intrigue going on about succession,” Russ Dallen, the head bond trader at Caracas Capital Markets, said yesterday in an e-mailed response to questions. “He names Maduro as his successor and says people should vote for him — not the words of a man that is sure he is going to live long or even be back for the inauguration on the 10th,” he said.
The former paratrooper, who last left for Cuba on Nov. 27 to aid his recovery from an unspecified form of cancer, disappeared from public view from Nov. 15 until his return to Venezuela early Dec. 7. Unlike previous convalescences, the self-declared socialist didn’t make use of his Twitter account or call into television programs.
“They told me the surgery should have been yesterday or this weekend, but I told them I had to return to Venezuela,” Chavez said. “I need to return to Havana tomorrow and am sending a request to the National Assembly.”