Chavez absence lingers, opposition targeted

2013-02-07 12:00
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez walks on the tarmac of the Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, Cuba. (File, Prensa Latina)

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez walks on the tarmac of the Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, Cuba. (File, Prensa Latina)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Caracas - As cancer-stricken Hugo Chavez's recovery drags on, his government is stepping up attacks on the opposition and closing ranks to dispel any appearance of a power vacuum.

The National Assembly, controlled by lawmakers loyal to Chavez, opened a corruption probe on Tuesday into two members of the Justice First party, accusing them of illegally accepting campaign donations without reporting them.

The party is led by Henrique Capriles, whom Chavez defeated in presidential elections back in October.

Last month the government said far right groups in Venezuela and abroad were planning an attack against Vice President Nicolas Maduro, Chavez's handpicked political heir, and the speaker of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello.

The vice president has also accused Capriles of conspiring against the country from Colombia, where he met with former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez.

Chavez underwent his fourth round of cancer surgery in Havana on December 11, and since then has neither been seen nor heard, a dramatic departure for the flamboyant leader who had been a near-constant presence in state-run media.

Chavez not yet sworn in

Even among the Latin American leaders who have gone to Cuba to offer their well-wishes to Chavez, none has claimed to have seen him.

Maduro and Foreign Minister Elias Jaua visited Chavez on Wednesday in Havana, the government said.

But it released no photo of Chavez, instead putting out photos of each man holding religious statues that were gifts for the ailing president, aged 58.

Chavez was supposed to have been sworn in last month but was too sick to travel to Caracas, and the ceremony was postponed indefinitely.

The longer Chavez is absent, the greater the risk that people will perceive a power vacuum and start to look for an alternative leadership for the oil-rich nation, said Luis Vicente Leon, from the consulting firm Datanalisis.

The government is trying to "frighten the adversary so as to undermine it and send concrete messages to the effect that there is no power vacuum," and that it can be tougher than Chavez himself, Leon said.

Capriles denied the corruption allegations against his party colleagues and said the offensive was in fact aimed at him.

"Make no mistake. They are coming after me," he said on Wednesday.

With Chavez out of the picture, the two most visible faces of Chavez's populist movement are Maduro and Cabello.

They say the opposition is trying to turn them against each other as rivals to succeed Chavez. So they are acting almost in unison in attacking the opposition as a way to show a united front and close ranks.

"This ruling duo want to be more 'chavista' than Chavez -tougher, less tolerant, looking both outward and inside the country," Vladimir Villegas, a formerly pro-Chavez journalist and politician who has turned against Chavez, wrote in the newspaper El Nacional.

"This is their way of making up for the president's absence," he added.


Read more on:    hugo chavez  |  venezuela

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


An uncomfortable election

The latter few weeks of election 2014, have seen South Africans reeling from an assault on their comfort zone when it comes to voting, writes Daniel Silke


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold 9790

Bold Design The BlackBerry Bold 9790 smartphone combines the iconic BlackBerry...

From R2979.00

I'm shopping for:


You may be required to travel or get information for your job. This may be restricting in some way or something may slow more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.