A woman holds a picture of President Hugo Chavez as supporters gather at Simon Bolivar square in Caracas,Venezuela.
Although he was only recently elected to a fourth term as Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chavez has flown to Cuba for yet another surgery to address malignant cancer.
The ill leader has gone so far as to choose a replacement, should the need arise.
Chavez has named Vice President and Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro as his preferred successor, urging supporters to vote for Maduro in the event of an election. The constitution stipulates a vote within 30 days should he be incapacitated.
In his first appearance following his anointment, Maduro wept as he vowed the country would remain faithful to Chavez and carry on his self-styled revolution.
Maduro is known as a man of the people, having risen from humble origins as a bus driver and union leader to his current position of power. There are others in the Chavista movement who might also vie to take Chavez’s place, not to mention the opposition, which has been trying to unseat the old puma and his socialist policies since the late 1990s.