That chavismo will fight to the death to stay in power is no longer controversial. But chances are high that, in the next 1 to 4 years, they’ll find themselves out. Which brings up a hair-raising question: who’s the most likely figure to bring them back to Miraflores?

Venezuelan parties have a long history of failing to empower the generación de relevo, the breed of younger guys (and yeah, they’re almost all guys), willing to look two, or three, election cycles down the road. Copei basically died because it never managed to solve this problem. AD, weirdly, has managed to not solve it for three generations in a row a succession of gerontocrats, holding back the new players until the biological solution takes hold.

This is one area where chavismo does much better than we do. You can call them terrible despots, even worse rulers, but they are not improvisers – they are working on a prospect to succeed in some three decades.

Out of the up-and-coming generation of leftist lunatics who are likely to take over once the Maduro cohort is out, one man towers above the rest. Héctor Rodríguez was 16 years old, on that long-ago February day when Hugo Chávez was first sworn in as president. Now, 35, he is a kind of laboratory version of the Next Big Thing.

Young, charismatic, and silver-tongued, Hector is a chemically pure product of life in the chavista movement. I mean, the guy named his youngest child after one of Chávez’s bureaucratic dependencies (his kid’s actual name is Inti). [ooops]. Loyal as a dog, he’s blindly devoted to the cause with absolute zeal. He’s also smarter than a bunch of his putative bosses. Quite the candidate for big things.

Nobody expects Rodríguez to win that race, but they do expect him to campaign with gusto, to fight a good fight, and to lose honorably.

Asking some political friends, I discovered something odd: virtually everyone I know quietly, inwardly, takes it for granted that Hector Rodríguez will be president of Venezuela one day. Not soon, you see, but sometime in the 2030s, or maybe the 2040s, he is going to bring them back to power.

At his age, who else has had that amount of ministries under his belt? In 2008, at the tender age of 28, he took over the President’s Office Ministry, even if it was for just four months. In 2010, he was appointed as Minister for Sports, where he stayed until 2013, when he was switched to the Youth Ministry. Nine months later, in January 2014, he became Minister of Education, before being appointed in 2015 as the Vicepresident of the Ministerial Council for Social Development and the Misiones. Next stop was the National Assembly.

His biggest test yet, leading chavismo as a minority in the National Assembly, has been carried out with success. Unlike the typical cero-a-la-izquierda chavista, Hector actually thinks through his argument, and delivers searing speeches that roast the MUD, based more on actual facts and arguments than on ideological bromides it’s weird, nobody else on their side can do that.

He’s got a taste of politics and its lateral network, of course at the top level, both in the executive and the legislative branch. And now, he’s got his own “real first election race”. He’s tasked with improving PSUV’s odds, in the race for Miranda against Carlos Ocariz (everybody’s favorite politician with a lisp). Nobody expects Rodríguez to win that race, but they do expect him to campaign with gusto, to fight a good fight, and to lose honorably.

It’s not a task he’s likely to fail at. All part of a long-term training program. Grooming at its best.

And let’s be honest, he’s not doing a bad job. He’s sticking it to whomever he must in the opposition, climbing further up the ranks of the chavista greasy pole with each shanking. His latest rally was held at El Poliedro, an iconic place for chavista meetings.Usually reserved for those way on top of the ladder. It doesn’t matter that El Poliedro isn’t in Miranda, the state he is running in. At this point, nobody is counting descaros anymore.

Quietly day in, day out Hector Rodríguez is laying the groundwork for a nationwide network that will eventually bring him to power. You can hear the lines being seeded even now Héctor, ese hombre sí trabaja”. He is chavismo’s best, and perhaps only, chance at resurrection.

Write it down.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.