Crystal Ball Chronicles

Weekend-at-Bernies28 December, 2016 – CARACAS From his hospital bed in Havana, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez decreed a raft of new revenue-raising measures to deal with the country’s chronic fiscal imbalances today, the country’s vice-president Nicolás Maduro announced.

Though President Chávez has not been seen in public for over four years now, Mr. Maduro assured the nation that the president continues to recuperate from an unspecified “pelvic” cancer first contracted in 2011, while slamming opponents’ calls for further transparency.

“The necrophiliac scum of the MUD continue in their perverted calls to invade the president’s privacy,” Maduro said, “but the country has heard their shrill squeals long enough to know they are only trying to destablize the revolution.”

Rumors that Chávez died due to post-operative complications in late 2012 or early 2013 continue to surface sporadically here. Years of strenuous denials by the government, which insists the president’s condition is slowly improving, gave way earlier this year to a new “Law against counter-revolutionary necrophilia” imposing lengthy jail terms on opponents who publicly discuss rumours of his demise.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has strenuously denounced the use of the law to imprison one-time Chávez challenger Henrique Capriles Radonski, after he called for the government to furnish proof that the president is still alive in a speech in November 2015.

Sentenced to 22 years at El Rodeo for “malicious necrophilia”, his supporters held candle-lit vigils for Capriles’s release for months following his detention, until July 2016, when the security forces – noting the use of candles in funeral rites – rounded 14 of them up on charges of “subsidiary necrophilia.”

The fourteen are imprisoned awaiting trial. Venezuela ceased membership in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2013.

“We will continue to live and pray for our comandante,” Adelia Delgado, 29, said outside her hillside shack, which has lacked running water since she and her husband built it in 2007. “He is the life of the people and the fascist opposition just can’t bear the reality that he’s getting better little by little in Havana and will be back home to fix things up any day now…”