It is hard to say whether Chavez is progressing positively or negatively in his medical bunker in Cuba. As such, speculation has commenced as to what will become of Venezuela should Chavez not return. Here are some interesting candidates to occupy the power vacuum. I welcome any additions or prognostications on your end …
1) Adan Chavez Frias – Chavez’s older brother and governor of Barinas state. He has served as the president’s private secretary, education minister and ambassador to Cuba. Adan maintains a close relationship with Hugo and the Cuban leadership. He keeps a relatively low profile but is very committed ideologically. Trust abounds with Adan.
2) Maria Gabriela Chavez – Hugo’s second oldest child. She, similar to Keiko Fujimori in Peru, is regarded as her Dad’s protégé. She serves the role of first lady and has been at her father’s side throughout his fight with cancer. She’s been very visible and the Castro brothers approve, so a likely candidate as well.
3) Ali Rodriguez Araque – Has been with Hugo through thick and thin. He has held posts as electricity minister, energy minister, foreign minister, finance minister, PDVSA president, secretary-general of OPEC and Venezuelan ambassador to Cuba. Interestingly, it is rumored that Chavez is a bit peeved by the close relationship Ali has with Fidel Castro. Considering this and the influence the Castros have over Venezuela, this guy is an intriguing pick.
4) Nicolas Maduro Moros – Serves as the foreign minister and was Hugo’s bodyguard after Chavez was released from prison. He maintains a strong relationship with the Castros and has employed a lot of Cubans as consultants under his watch.