Chavez Returns Home after Surgery in Cuba

By Park Sae-jin Posted : July 12, 2011, 14:09 Updated : July 12, 2011, 14:09
After undergoing emergency surgery in Cuba, the once noted Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was rushed back home last week, in order to restrain rivals, not only in the innner circle of power, but many who have begun to openly challenge the now unpopular party. The president had also prepared himself to confront issues of domestic and natural crises that have made Venezuela a deeply troubled country this past year.

Chavez‘s populist government has united behind him, promising to accelerate a self-styled revolution built on creating a socialist state, marginalizing opponents and forging alliances with governments opposed to the United States, yet it remains unclear how active or effective the 56-year-old president will be.

Chavez has referred to his illness as “one of life’s ambushes,” and he has spoken about the “very difficult” hours after Fidel Castro told him in Havana last month that he had a malignant tumor.

However, he has not confirmed what kind of cancer nor discussed the prognosis, and it is unclear whether he will return regularly to Cuba, Venezuela’s closest ally, for treatment.

Meanwhile, the hard realities of Venezuela today, a country rocked by drug-fueled violence, a struggling economy in the midst of a long oil boom, rolling electrical blackouts and a polarized political landscape, are underscoring the limitations of Chavez’s dominating one-man rule as his movement prepares for next year’s presidential election.

The government’s overriding objective now is for Chavez to secure a third six-year term in the next election or, if forced to relinquish his candidacy, ensure that a trusted handpicked successor wins, analysts and those close to the administration said.

The continuation of Chavez’s “revolution,” he and his associates have said in recent days, means a deepening of a socialist project characterized until now by the nationalization of companies and seizure of farmland. However, it remains unclear how successful the now defunct socialist party remains now.

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