Venezuela's voluble and ubiquitous President Hugo Chávez hasn't returned to the public eye after a surgery in Cuba that has friends and foes alike speculating about the state of his health and the future of his rule.Imagine how dreadful medical care must be in Venezuela when this maggot has to go to a hellhole like Cuba to have surgery. Here's hoping whatever treatment he's getting is botched and he soon joins his Marxist idols for a permanent dirtnap.
Mr. Chávez has been in Cuba since June 8, when he was felled by a pelvic abscess for which he underwent an operation two days later. Soon after, Venezuelan officials said the flamboyant leader was in good health but would recuperate in Havana for a "few days."
Those few days have stretched to 11, punctuated by false alarms over the date of his return. On Monday, a ruling party lawmaker said Mr. Chávez was hours from touching down in Caracas and urged his supporters to prepare a "tremendous" welcome for him. The claim was quickly refuted on the Twitter account of Venezuela's Communications Minister Andres Izarra.
On Tuesday, Mr. Chávez made another virtual appearance. In a statement posted on Mr. Izarra's Twitter account, he lamented the death of another Venezuelan official who had sought medical treatment in Cuba.
"We don't know very much about [Chávez's] health, there is no official news, only partial reports," said Chávez critic Teodoro Petkoff, a former presidential candidate and current editor of the opposition newspaper Tal Cual.
Mr. Chávez raised concerns when he said, during a call to a Venezuelan television station two days after his operation, that there were no "malignant" signs found, a former top Venezuelan health official said.
The former official, who asked not to be named, pointed out that a pelvic abscess—a pus-filled cavity that can result from injury or infection—is a reaction to a condition. "His choice of words was a red flag," the official said.
The former official also said there was a possibility that Mr. Chávez would be hospitalized when he returned to Venezuela, another potential sign of the severity of his ailment. If it was a matter of simply treating an abscess, Mr. Chávez would likely not need a hospital at that point, the official said.
Once a slender tank commander and would-be major-league baseball pitcher, Mr. Chávez has cultivated an image as a health-conscious sportsman. But 12 years in power have taken their toll.
Mr. Chávez, 56 years old, has gained a lot of weight since his days on the mound, works long hours and is known for drinking quarts of coffee daily. Nevertheless, he seemed poised to resume a full schedule in early June after a knee injury had sidelined him, when he left Venezuela for visits to Brazil, Ecuador and Cuba.
In Cuba, he suffered acute pain during a meeting with former Cuban leader Fidel Castro and was rushed into surgery.
Since then, Mr. Chávez has been nearly invisible, except for a phone call into a Venezuelan television station on June 12, two days after his operation, and photographs of Mr. Chávez wearing a tracksuit in the colors of the Venezuelan flag as he is flanked by Fidel and Raul Castro, published in the state newspaper Granma on June 18.
In a three-paragraph note, Granma assured its readers that Mr. Chávez was in close communication with top Venezuelan officials and was "on top of the principal issues of his country."
The mystery surrounding Mr. Chávez's health is a throwback to the Cold War secrecy which persists in Cuba, one of the last Communist governments left standing.
It's a shame our administration here has no clue what it's doing with foreign policy. Sure seems to me like this is a golden opportunity to some some damage to the Chavez regime. But that would be assuming Obama was opposed to Chavez and his reign of terror.