“During Hugo Chávez’s presidency, the bolivar has been devalued by 992 per cent,” and the latest – “one of the worst-timed devaluations ever” – serves as “a powerful reminder that, sooner or later, the economic laws of gravity end up determining political calculations”, notes Venezuela’s former minister of industry and trade:
The imperative to devalue was driven by a combination of bad policies and ideological necrophilia: love for ideas that should be long dead, and have been tried before with disastrous consequences. …Ideological zealotry and a penchant for grabbing private companies and putting them in the hands of inept or corrupt political operatives has also destroyed what was left of the export capacity of the country.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro, Chávez’s designated heir, said the president was undergoing a “new phase” of “tough” treatment for his cancer in Havana.
“Today our commander is undergoing alternative treatments … they are complex and difficult treatments that must, at some point, end the cycle of his illness,” Maduro said in comments on state TV.
But some analysts believe power has already started to pass into the hands of a new generation.
“The transition has already begun in Venezuela, and the election campaign has also begun,” said Tulio Hernandez, a professor at the Central University of Venezuela. “The transition has also begun in people’s heads. Sometimes, there are mistakes among government spokespeople, who start to speak of Chávez in the past tense.”
Critics accuse the government of secrecy and paranoia over Chávez’s condition:
El Chigüire Bipolar (The Bipolar Capybara) — the country’s answer to the Onion — parodied Vice President Nicolás Maduro with Orwellian language: “The President is stable, some days less stable, some days more stable and occasionally is in a state of excessive stability.”
But, Time reports, the opposition, “internally conflicted and demoralized” after losing October’s presidential election in October, “appears to be falling apart” …..
……as its less-measured members scream and shout that by not appearing at his own inauguration, Chávez is no longer the President. “The capital of Venezuela has moved to Havana,” said opposition figure Leopoldo López. Henrique Capriles Radonski, the opposition’s leader who lost to Chávez in the recent presidential election, has remained relatively quiet though has continued to insist that Chávez should offer some proof of life. “If the President of the republic can sign decrees, I call on him to show himself, to talk to Venezuela,” he said.