His story on this electrifyingly close election is here. The money quote, re. the riole the President’s illness has (or hasn’t) played in the campaign,
Then came the resurrection of the summer: miraculous—and incredibly convenient. As someone very close to Chávez told me (anonymously as he feared falling out of favor with the supreme commander), it was a welcome distraction from the wear and tear of years of failed policies. Chávez “has drawn attention away from the big problems of his administration such as its incompetence, corruption, and bureaucracy, and the nation’s criminal violence,” the source said. “He has created this dramatic scenario to … seduce the masses because he knows that, terminally ill or not, this is his last chance.”
Indeed, even some members of his inner circle suspect that Chávez’s long battle with cancer is really an elaborate charade masterfully orchestrated in complicity with the government of Havana— and one that might win him yet another term, perpetuating his presidency for another six years.