Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

Chávez: the people’s president

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on July 5, 2011

by Benedict Mander for Financial Times – Beyond Brics, July 5th, 2011.

The atmosphere beneath “the people’s balcony” at the Miraflores presidential palace when Hugo Chávez appeared in the late afternoon on Monday wearing his signature red beret was nothing short of euphoric.

But if one thing was clear from Chávez’s address, it is that he is not at all well. Still, the mere sight of their comandante in the flesh after almost a month of excruciating uncertainty as to his health, only to learn last week that he is battling cancer, was enough to throw his followers into fits of ecstasy: they chanted revolutionary slogans, they cheered, they even cried.

Chávez did his best to temper the upbeat mood. “No one should believe that my presence means that we have won the battle. We have started to climb back up the hill, to defeat the illness that got inside my body… We will live and we will overcome these difficulties,” he assured his supporters.

For the first time, Venezuelans got an idea of just how serious the situation was during Chávez’s almost month-long stay in Cuba, while they were kept almost entirely in the dark. He admitted that only ten days ago he had come out of intensive therapy that lasted four days after a June 20 operation that removed a cancerous tumour.

He also explained that he was under a “strict” medical regime and may not be able to attend major celebrations tomorrow marking the 200th anniversary since the declaration of independence from Spain (he could barely bend down to pick up and put down his coffee cup, which his daughter had to do for him). (continue reading… )

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