Venezuelans have not listened or seen President Chávez for two months
December 8, 2012 was the last time the Venezuelan leader addressed to the nation
In this way, President Chávez bid farewell. Unlike his three previous cancer relapses though, the president feared not to continue in office and displayed his political will. "In the event, as set forth in the Constitution (...) of an unexpected occurrence (...) that makes me unable to continue holding the presidency (...) either to complete the few remaining days (...) or, particularly, to take on the new term in office for which I was elected (...) Nicolás Maduro should, not only in this situation, as provided for in the Constitution, complete this term, but, in my firm, full as the full moon, irrevocable, absolute, and total opinion –in such a scenario that would require, pursuant to the Constitution, calling again for presidential election- you should elect Nicolás Maduro as president."
"I ask you from the bottom of my heart," Chávez underlined, flanked by Vice-President Nicolás Maduro and National Assembly Speaker Diosdado Cabello. Since then, both of the latter have monopolized the public scene in an attempt at filling the vacuum left by the Bolivarian leader. The media campaign "All of us are Chávez" and "I am with Chávez more than ever" has been the banner of Chavezism to galvanize their followers' unity, symbolically sworn in last January 10, the day scheduled for the president's inauguration in this third six-year term in office.
Throughout these months, Chávez has signed decrees; appointed Elías Jaua as the new Foreign Minister; endorsed the scheme to choose the candidates of ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) to the local election of next July 14, and forwarded letters to the presidents of the Member States of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac), plus another letter on the occasion of the 21st anniversary of the coup attempt of February 4. The vice-president has reported on the president's activities, and shown the president's signature to authenticate his remarks.
Cabello, Maduro, Jaua and Minister of Petroleum and Mining Rafael Ramírez have traveled to Cuba quite a few times and briefed on their meetings with President Chávez, without audiovisual records.
Blessings and hugs
Following the president's operation and recovery in Havana, Venezuelan government authorities have made short comments on his health status. Just on Thursday night, Jaua twitted: "Nicolás, (Solicitor General) Cilia (Flores) and I just completed a deeply human, beautiful meeting with our Commander Chávez. He is in the battle."
Jaua added that "blessings, hugs, prayers and religious cards" have been taken by Maduro, Flores and himself.
Translated by Conchita Delgado
Cristian Fonseca, a businessman in La Candelaria district downtown Caracas, was doing the accounts in his small shop office on Sunday December 21, 2008. The Christmas shopping season kept him working late hours into the night. It was around 11 p.m. and his phone rang. A friend broke the bad news to him over the telephone.