Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez touched down last night at Havana’s José Martí airport in another twist in the tale of his newly public battle with cancer.Bank on chaos. These Communists don't give up power easily.
The fiery socialist leader will today begin chemotherapy there for an unknown period of time, raising questions as to the future of his presidency especially as elections loom in 2012.
“We're going to give it everything we've got,” Mr. Chávez said Saturday as he boarded his flight in Caracas. “It's not time to die. It's time to live.”
The slow release of information about Chávez's illness has led to much speculation on his health and, therefore, his ability to govern. And as he toys with how much decision-making power to delegate while he is treated in Cuba, analysts warn of a looming power struggle within his inner circle.
“Chávez still resists transferring authority to his vice president, and it remains to be seen how many important decisions will be made by others,” says Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue think tank in Washington. “It would be a complete break from the caudillo-style [quasi-dictatorial, top-down] governance that has characterized the Chávez regime.”
Mr. Shifter struggles to believe that an arrangement whereby Chávez shuttles back and forth between Cuba and Venezuela, maintaining his hold on power, will work smoothly.
“Either Chávez will refuse to give up real decision-making or, if he is incapacitated, his inner circle will engage in a fierce power struggle that could become quite chaotic,” says Shifter.
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