Chavez names his successor

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez returns to Cuba on Sunday for more surgery after a recurrence of cancer led him to name a successor for the first time in a sign the disease may force an end to his 14-year rule.

Before leaving, in a late-night broadcast on Saturday from the presidential palace, he asked his supporters to vote for Vice President Nicolas Maduro if a new election had to be held.
“It is absolutely necessary, absolutely essential, that I undergo a new surgical intervention,” the president said in his speech, flanked by ashen-faced ministers.

His departure would trigger an election as per the Constitution. Maduro, a 50-year-old, mustachioed former bus driver and union leader, is widely viewed as the most popular among Venezuelans thanks to his affable manner, humble background and close relationship with Chavez. “He is a complete revolutionary, a man of great experience,” Chavez said.

Maduro’s trade union background appeals to Chavez’s working-class supporters, while his years as foreign minister provided opportunities for networking abroad.  “I never argue with Chavez’s instructions, I obey them,” Cabello said shortly afterwards.

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