News

    Chavez Health Uncertain for Upcoming Venezuelan Presidential Election

    Jeff Swicord

    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is battling what is believed to be an aggressive cancer, but he has vowed to continue running for a third term in office.  The election is set for October 7.  Chavez has endured two surgeries since being diagnosed last year and traveled to Cuba again last week for a series of radiation treatments.

    As Hugo Chavez arrived in Cuba for a third round of cancer treatment, his health has become the main factor in his re-election effort.  

    Michael Shifter is president of the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington.

    "f we have learned anything from Chavez over 13 years, it is that we shouldn’t rule him out," said Shifter.

    Political analysts believe this could be his toughest election.  Chavez is accused of mismanaging Venezuela's oil wealth and devastating the rest of the economy with his firebrand left-wing politics.  Many of the business elite have left the country.  

    But Chavez has won strong support among Venezuela's poor by using oil revenue to boost social programs.  Again, Michael Shifter:

    “Chavez, despite the dismal results and terrible governance, still has a powerful and emotional connection with a lot of Venezuelans," he said. "Many Venezuelans, poor Venezuelans especially, think, believe, that he cares about them.  And he is trying to do the best he can.”

    Chavez faces his toughest opponent yet in Henrique Capriles, who vows to continue the social programs that  Chavez started while moving the country toward a more market-oriented economy.

    But many believe the outcome of the election will hinge on the president's health.  Some question why he has refused to step aside while undergoing cancer treatment.  He has never disclosed the details of his illness.

    Political psychologist and psychiatrist Jerrold Post says Chavez is the quintessential narcissist who can’t come to terms with his mortality.

    “He has increasingly come to see himself as the very essence of Venezuela," said Post. "Just as Castro is Cuba, Cuba, Castro.  Chavez is Venezuela, Venezuela is Chavez in his mind.  And it is inconceivable to have a Venezuela without him at its head.”

    Dr. Post says Venezuela is entering a dangerous period.  He believes Chavez has imposed his timetable on the nation and wants to secure his legacy in both Venezuelan and Latin American history.

    “Were his opponent to be moving ahead in the polls, I think it is quite possible he could take violent action against his opponent," he said. "But what I think is most important, and I can’t predict exactly how he will act, is that this is a man under immense stress.”

    Chavez' current round of radiation therapy is expected to take 4 to 5 weeks.  He has refused to relinquish any authority to his subordinates and will travel back and forth to Cuba for treatment.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora