First off, with the rumour mill going off the rails yesterday, we need to keep in mind that Chávez’s death and the election that would follow may be months away.
It seems clear to me that there will be no formal change in the Presidency until Chávez is actually declared dead – chavistas would not dare declare a “temporary” or “absolute” absence while the President is still … present. They would rather swear him in January 10th via Twitter than declare his absolute absence.
Now, I’m no doctor (how many times have you heard this recently?) but there are a few things I know. Chávez was on TV this weekend a couple of times, and he didn’t look that bad. Furthermore, how advanced can his cancer be if they decided to operate him? Generally, people with few weeks to live are not operated on. As a pathologist friend of mine suggested, the surgery may have been to help take away some of the pain in the coming months.
So urgency (“we need to elect a candidate now!”) may be misplaced. We have several good options – Capriles, Ledezma, Henri Falcón, Pablo Pérez, Maria Corina, Arria, heck even Eduardo Fernández is being bandied about – and the candidate will be chosen at the appropriate time considering the reality of the moment.
So let’s all take a deep breath here.
There is something else we need to think about. Unless a bona fide miracle occurs, we get a do-over on the October election, and that is a good thing! So … why the glum faces, folks? Go ask Republicans in the US if you think otherwise.
Not only that, we get a do-over with a far more vulnerable candidate than the one we just lost to, under economic conditions that are far worse than before, and with our opponents’ coalition’s unity seriously in question.
This is a great opportunity.
Worst case scenario: Maduro beats us. So what? We had already been beaten and were looking to six more years of Chávez. There is no way Maduro will have the same political capital as Chávez, and all signs point to a less stringent version of chavista rule. Heck, we may even get the chance to recall Maduro once economic realities sink in.
Things are looking up, folks. At least that’s what the bond markets believe.