Excerpts of column "Runrunes" (Rumors) released on Tuesday, January 15
THE PATIENT. On December 31, we posted on www.runrun.es information on President Hugo Chávez's health as soon as Vice-President Nicolás Maduro completed his briefing to the country. "The president's health condition remains delicate, showing complications that will be handled as part of a process which is not free from risks." In this way, Venezuelans were being prepared for any bad news about the life of the most important caudillo in the 21st Century. In 2010, a medical examination warned him of such possibility. A cancer starting in the pelvic area would stretch to bones, pancreas and a kidney in one and a half year since his first surgery in June 2011. This time, the patient has undergone a new surgery; his abdomen has been checked; he has suffered a pulmonary infarction or a heart attack -nobody knows- and a continued respiratory distress that was overcome as late as Sunday. This was spelled out in the latest babbling report, the most optimistic and comprehensive one. "He is making progress from the surgery undergone on December 11. However, he still needs specific measures to resolve a respiratory distress derived from an infection." Chávez has being sedated quite a while. However, sometimes he can receive his relatives and Nicolás Maduro, the only one of the leaders who has spoken with him. The best founded rumors are implicit in the words of Cuban President Raúl Castro with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. "Only a miracle could make Chávez recover to start a new term in office." She, like ex-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, had kept in touch with the three doctors that her government made available to the Cuban team, and she had been up to date with the daily progress of the Venezuelan Head of State until 12 days ago. Since then, the Cubans have not contacted the Brazilians, or the three Venezuelans, or the two Spaniards who took part in the videoconferences regularly held since July 2011. Chávez received in December the holy oil administered by a Venezuelan military priest. The president's closer relatives, such as his two older daughters and his son are thus far the only ones who remain in Cuba, watching over their father's progress. This is a hint of poor expectations. In the event of recovery, he would be unable to perform his fourth presidential incumbency in the same way as the previous three terms in office. Nevertheless, prayers prompted by senior government officers, even in obligatory simultaneous broadcasts, ask for a miracle.
That political protest in Venezuela has lost momentum seems pretty obvious: people are no longer building barricades to block off streets near Plaza Francia in Altamira (eastern Caracas), an anti-government stronghold; no new images have been shown of brave and dashing protesters with bandanna-covered faces clashing with the National Guard in San Cristóbal, in the western state of Táchira; and those who dreamed of a horde of "Gochos" (Tachirans) descending in an avalanche to stir up revolt in Caracas have been left with no option but to wake up to reality.