ShareThis Page

After Chavez: A crapshoot

| Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, 9:09 p.m.

Cancer-stricken Hugo Chavez's seemingly imminent exit as Venezuela's president confronts America and its allies with perilous uncertainty.

Mr. Chavez won re-election in October. But he hasn't been seen or heard from publicly since surgery in Havana more than a month ago. He didn't return in time for his inauguration last Thursday. Supporters and opponents disagree on whether Venezuela's Constitution — which calls for an election in 30 days if the president dies or is permanently incapacitated — allows him to be sworn in later.

In December, Chavez named as his successor Nicolas Maduro, his vice president and foreign minister. Miami Herald columnist Carlos Alberto Montaner says Chavez and his closest allies, Cuba's Castro brothers, see Mr. Maduro as likely to continue oil-rich Venezuela's estimated $10 billion annual subsidies for Cuba — and have been plotting Maduro's ascent since summer 2011.

But perpetuating Cuba's influence doesn't sit well with many Venezuelans who likely support Henrique Capriles — the state governor who lost to Chavez in October — in an election against Maduro. Cuba, desperate for Venezuelan subsidies to continue, might lack the wherewithal to install Maduro. And no one should count on Venezuela's succession respecting the rule of law.

If neither Mr. Capriles nor Maduro fills a post-Chavez power vacuum, what thug might? Venezuela's next regime could be even worse — and America and its allies must be ready for that grim scenario.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.