Girish Gupta

HOME

PHOTOS

ONLINE

Twitter
Instagram
IFTTT
Facebook
LinkedIn
Keybase
GitHub

BY COUNTRY

Brazil
Colombia
Cuba
Ecuador
Egypt
Guyana
Iraq
Jordan
Lebanon
Mexico
United Kingdom
Venezuela

BY MEDIUM

Text
Photo
Radio
TV/Video

BY PUBLISHER

Al Jazeera
BBC
BuzzFeed
CBC
Christian Science Monitor
CNN
Daily Mail
Datum
Ecologist
Economist Intelligence Unit
Emerging Markets
Financial Times
Foreign Policy
France 24
Fusion
GlobalPost
Guardian
Independent
La Prensa (Panama)
LatinFinance
Mancunion
Monocle
National (Abu Dhabi)
New Internationalist
New Statesman
New York Times
New Yorker
NPR
PBS
PRI
Radio France Internationale
Reuters
RTE
Sky News
Sun
Sunday Times
Telegraph
TIME
Times of London
USA Today
Vice
WLRN

ABOUT

About
CV
Contact (PGP Key)
Chávez in Cuba: remote control?
Jun. 21, 2011

Published by Financial Times

Switch on the television in Venezuela and more often than not, the face of president Hugo Chávez will peer out, speaking of the ills of capitalism and the success of his own government. But for nearly two weeks now, the president has remained uncharacteristically quiet – not even updating Twitter – as he lies in a Cuban hospital bed recovering from a pelvic abscess operation.

A golden opportunity for the Venezuelan opposition, you might think. But even as a bloody prison riot and power cuts add to a sense of spreading chaos back home, those unhappy with Chavez’s increasingly dysfunctional regime have yet to unite to find a leader or platform to rally behind.

Chávez’s silence is bordering on the eerie. In just one phone call to Caracas-based television network Telesur ten days ago, he explained that he was keeping a close eye on Venezuela and was perfectly able to govern from Havana – a “good place” to fall ill.

However, the “few days” after which the charismatic leader was expected to return have long passed, raising questions about his health – and about governability. When Chávez passed a Special Debt Law from Havana, opposition lawmakers questioned its legality, though Congress has since ratified it.

As uncertainty spreads, some in Venezuela have suggested that the president’s visits to Brazil and Ecuador earlier this month were little more than a means of getting him to Cuba for a serious operation.

Meanwhile, at the El Rodeo prison just east of Caracas, more than 5,000 troops are battling to regain control against heavily armed inmates. Hundreds of family members wait outside to hear if their loved ones are still alive. Annoyance at power outages also festers, as Venezuelans increasingly feel let down by their government.

Chávez’s ill health in Havana has reminded many of Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s health problems and inability to govern five years ago. To many, the pair now seem increasingly isolated, as the old guard of the Latin American left gives way to the sprightly and more moderate left of Ollanta Humala, Peru’s president-elect, and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s former president and Humala’s political mentor.

Nobody expects Chávez to renounce his socialist revolution and grab a piece of this fertile middle ground. But doing so also remains an opportunity lost to Venezuela’s opposition as elections loom in 2012. They are struggling to make a mark on domestic politics – playing any role in the new Latin American left seems a distant dream.

The opposition has delayed choosing a presidential candidate until primaries in February – a date criticised by many of their own as being too late and leaving little time for their candidate to build anything like the powerful personal recognition enjoyed by Chávez. Instead of throwing itself behind one front man, the opposition continues to dither and at this stage looks likely to concede another term in office to Chávez next year.

“The capital of Venezuela is Caracas, not Havana,” said Omar Barbosa, an opposition politician. But on present form, the capital of Venezuela will continue to be Havana for the foreseeable future.




More...

Exclusive: At least 123 Venezuelan soldiers detained since protests - documents
Jul. 6, 2017


Venezuela hikes minimum wage 50 percent, effectively down 17 percent
Jul. 2, 2017


Venezuela movie actor behind helicopter attack on government buildings
Jun. 28, 2017


Fourteen Venezuelan army officers jailed in first week of protests - documents
Jun. 6, 2017


Exclusive: U.S. considers possible sanctions against Venezuela oil sector - officials
Jun. 4, 2017


Exclusive: Trump administration concerned about U.S. firms giving financial 'lifeline' to Venezuela
Jun. 4, 2017


United Airlines ends flights to Venezuela, further isolating country
Jun. 3, 2017


Venezuela sets new exchange mechanism, as currency continues to slide
May. 24, 2017


Exclusive: Venezuela holds 5,000 Russian surface-to-air MANPADS missiles
May. 22, 2017


Venezuelan opposition activists march to Leopoldo Lopez' jail
Apr. 28, 2017


Venezuela says inflation 274 percent last year, economists say far higher
Apr. 20, 2017


Venezuelan protests against government leave three dead
Apr. 19, 2017


Venezuelans return to streets, roused by ban on opposition leader
Apr. 8, 2017


Venezuelan opposition, security forces clash in anti-Maduro protests
Apr. 6, 2017


Venezuela security forces battle anti-Maduro protesters
Apr. 4, 2017








© Girish Gupta