Chavez 'heir' Maduro steps up profile

With Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez recovering from cancer surgery in Cuba, his designated heir Nicolas Maduro has been spotlighting his own leadership in case of an early presidential vote, observers say.

"Today, Maduro is completely different from when he was just the foreign minister. He is the vice president but he is also the handpicked successor (of Chavez) and the defacto acting president," said Luis Vicente Leon, who leads the Datanalisis pollster.

Since Chavez headed to Cuba on December 10 for a fourth round of surgery since he was diagnosed with cancer in 2011, Maduro has worked on honing his skills as a higher-profile leader in his own right in this OPEC member sitting atop the world's largest proven oil reserves.

Maduro has lashed out at the opposition, Chavez-style, on national television. And he has combatively pledged to fight to defend the socialist revolution that Chavez, a leftist ex-paratrooper, launched.

"I'm sorry I have voice trouble, from working so much these days, and after a cold I had that I am not over," a weary-looking Maduro admitted at a ceremony he presided over on Friday, swearing in pro-Chavez governors from three Andean states.

Chavez, who was re-elected in October, has picked Maduro to fill in should his cancer make it impossible for the president to be sworn in for a new term on January 10.

The Venezuelan leader urged his party to support Maduro in the event of an early presidential election should he be unable to return to power.

The 50-year-old vice president, a former bus driver and union activist, "needs to validate his leadership, because it could in the near future be an issue in a political campaign," Leon said.

DataStrategia chief Carmen Beatriz Fernandez noted that Maduro has played a prominent role at swearing-in ceremonies, and in speeches has "taken on the tone of someone who is on the campaign trail."

"He has been anointed as Chavez's heir, and now he is taking up that role actively. He is preparing himself for a presidential election in the near future," she added.

The vice president still feels the need to tread carefully on the issue of taking over the helm.

"I am just a vice president. We have a president who is on duty and his name is Hugo Chavez Frias," he shouted to supporters in Tachira.

Leon said that nevertheless Maduro has dropped his once "moderate" profile to make heavy use of words like "bourgeoisie" and "imperialism," references to Chavez's twin foes of wealthy Venezuelans and the United States, which he has often used as scapegoats to fire up crowds of mostly poor supporters.

"Maduro used to look much more moderate, calmer, but now he seems to be imitating Chavez's role, and trying to be more belligerent," Fernandez said.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, National Assembly speaker Diosdado Cabello urged Venezuelans Saturday not to be fixated of the date of January 10 when Chavez's searing-in ceremony to a third term is scheduled to take place.

Responding to multiple queries about what would happen if Chavez, 58, fails to show up, Cabello insisted that "the date of January 10 does not determine the president-elect's absolute absence."

According to the speaker, if intervening circumstances prevent the president from showing up on that date, the constitution allows him to be sworn in before Supreme Court justices.

And, Cabello added, the constitution "does not say when and where" this kind of inauguration should take place, giving some currency to rumors that the justices could be flown to Havana, if Chavez were unable to return to Caracas.

"Commandante Hugo Chavez will continue to be our president," the speaker concluded.

The face of the Latin American left for more than a decade and a firebrand critic of US "imperialism," Chavez asserted before embarking on his arduous re-election campaign earlier this year that he was cancer-free.

But he was later forced to admit he had suffered a recurrence of the disease. He returned to Cuba, a key Venezuelan ally, for surgery and follow-up treatment.

Venezuela has never said what type of cancer Chavez has, nor which organs are affected, but doctors removed a tumor from his pelvic region last year.

Maduro said he had been told by prosecutor Cilia Flores, who had just returned from Havana and had been in contact with the Chavez family, that "the president's recovery is consolidating with every passing day."

But the remarks suggested that, for one reason or another, the Venezuelan number two has not had direct telephone conversations with Chavez.

A medical report made public by the Cuban government on Thursday said Chavez was going through a "gradual stabilization process" after suffering a respiratory track infection, which was now "being treated and controlled."

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea
    US ambassador recovers from knife attack praised by N. Korea

    The US ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, was recovering from surgery Thursday after having his face and arm slashed by a knife-wielding activist in an attack applauded by North Korean state media. US Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington will never be deterred by "acts of violence" as the ambassador was rushed to hospital where his condition was described as stable after two-and-a-half hours of surgery that included 80 stitches to a deep gash on his right cheek. In a brief …

  • Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires
    Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires

    Eleven Filipinos are included in Forbes’ 2015 list of richest people in the world. Filipino-Chinese tycoon Henry Sy Sr. continues to be the wealthiest man in the Philippines. The 90-year-old SM supermalls, banking and property tycoon ranked 73rd among the world’s richest with an increased net worth of $14.2 billion from $11.4 billion last year. Sy’s net worth was attributed to the continued growth of his SM Investments Corp. and his more recent venture, the City of Dreams Manila resort and …

  • New Moro rebel group emerges
    New Moro rebel group emerges

    A radical Muslim cleric trained in the Middle East and considered one of the leaders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has broken away from the terror group to form his own band of jihadists who are now reportedly providing sanctuary to bomb expert Basit Usman and at least five foreign militants, the military said yesterday. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla, citing reports from the field, said the Justice for Islamic Movement (JIM) was …

  • US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines
    US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Wednesday he had found one of Japan's biggest and most famous battleships on a Philippine seabed, some 70 years after American forces sank it during World War II. Excited historians likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the Titanic, as they hailed the American billionaire for his high-tech mission that apparently succeeded after so many failed search attempts by others. Allen posted photos and video online of parts of what he said was the …

  • World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too
    World's oldest person wonders about secret to longevity too

    TOKYO (AP) — The world's oldest person says 117 years doesn't seem like such a long time. …

  • Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl
    Billionaire finds wreck of WWII ship in Phl

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen says he has found the Japanese Navy’s biggest warship at the bottom of the sea in the Philippines, 70 years after US forces sank it. Allen posted a photo on Twitter on Tuesday of the World War II battleship Musashi’s rusty bow, which bore the Japanese empire’s Chrysanthemum seal. The American billionaire, who has also pursued space exploration, said his luxury yacht and exploration ship, the M/Y Octopus, found the Musashi one kilometer (1.6 miles) deep on the …

  • Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media
    Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media

    By Jane Wardell and Beawiharta SYDNEY/DENPASAR, Indonesia (Reuters) - Two convicted Australian drug smugglers were removed from a prison in Bali on Wednesday to be taken to an Indonesian island where they will be shot by firing squad, Australian media reported. The planned executions of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, have ratcheted up diplomatic tensions amid repeated pleas of mercy for the pair from Australia and thrown a spotlight on Indonesia's increasing use of the death …

  • Pacquiao big hit so far in Vegas sports books vs Mayweather

    LAS VEGAS (AP) — Manny Pacquiao has always believed he can do what 47 other fighters before him have failed to do — beat Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the ring. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options