Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

Hugo Chávez no longer lying low

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on July 26, 2011

by Girish Gupta for The Christian Science Monitor, July 25h, 2011.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez’s silence during his initial trip to Cuba for cancer treatment raised speculation about his future. Now he is trying to remain in the public eye.

“THEY ROBBED US OF THE VICTORY GOAL!” screamed Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s Twitter account on Thursday morning, as Venezuela were knocked out of the Copa America after unexpectedly making the semi-finals.

As Mr. Chávez underwent his first phase of chemotherapy last week, he appeared to be keen to ensure that Venezuelans knew he was in charge – and eccentric statements like that are his modus operandi.

The firebrand socialist seems to have learned from the mistakes of last month, as an uncharacteristic three-week silence sparked speculation, compounded by his own ministers whose statements were confused and contradictory.

Their ubiquitous leader was missed and, thankfully for him, no one was able to fill the vacuum. This time around, there would be no vacuum to fill. “During the course of this week I have not lost focus on Venezuela for an instant,” Chávez said as he arrived back in Caracas on Saturday night.

His primary method of keeping up that appearance is Twitter. The maverick leader posted more than 50 times during his week away as he underwent medical treatment, spurring on the country’s soccer team, making budget statements, and alluding to his “great battle,” but without being specific as to why he was getting treatment.

Chávez is the face of government, and his public relations skills are second to none. Supporters hardly talk of their love for the party but, rather, their unflinching love for Chávez, the man. That fire has been kept burning for more than a decade by Chávez’s ubiquity on television, radio, and the streets of Caracas. (continue reading… )


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