Venezuela after Chavez / Después de Chavez por MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY / WSJ

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Venezuela after Chavez / Después de Chavez por MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY / WSJ

Analysts now talk of the possibility of a power struggle between the military and armed civilian factions.

Analistas conversan sobre las posibilidades de lucha entre los militares y facciones de la sociedad civil por el poder.

Hugo Chávez’s battle against cancer could serve as a learning experience for admirers of the Cuban health-care system, held up by the likes of American filmmaker Michael Moore as a model for the U.S. Apparently it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

There are other lessons too. If the day soon comes that he can no longer govern, it will not necessarily be good news for Venezuelans. Indeed, the country’s long-term decline is likely to continue. That’s because his early demise could make chavismo a near religion in Venezuela, much as the death of Eva Perón gave birth to her messianic image and the Argentine worship of peronismo . Pity the nation that falls prey to a demagogue.

Mr. Chávez’s health is a state secret, albeit one that a lot of people seem to know about. When he first had surgery in June 2011, he did not readily admit that doctors had removed a large cancerous tumor from his pelvic area. The government still hasn’t said what type of cancer he has.

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AFP/Getty ImagesThe president prays for his life at Mass in Barinas, Venezuela, April 5.

In February he revealed that a new “lesion” had been discovered. Since then he has traveled twice to Cuba for radiation therapy. He returned to Venezuela briefly last week amid rumors that he would go to Saõ Paulo in search of a better outcome. But on Saturday he instead returned to Cuba for a third round of radiation.

It may be that by the time Cuban doctors got a good look at Mr. Chávez last year and removed his tumor, the disease was already too advanced for successful treatment. But according to Dr. José Rafael Marquina, a Venezuelan doctor living in Florida who claims to have inside knowledge, Mr. Chávez was gravely mistaken if he thought the Cuban medical system could at least buy him some time.

Dr. Marquina has told Spain’s ABC newspaper that when Mr. Chávez returned to Havana for radiation therapy this year, the Cubans botched the job. To be effective, radiation requires that the patient adhere to a strict schedule of applications. Yet according to Dr. Marquina, Cuba “suspended” the treatment when Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos visited the island, presumably so the Venezuelan could attend the meetings. He also claims the areas where the radiation was applied were not properly marked, something he says is important to ensure efficacy. He told ABC that the Cuban medics thought it was unnecessary but that a Brazilian doctor later recommended it.

Dr. Marquina told ABC that Mr. Chávez’s cancer has metastasized into the liver, the adrenal glands and the bladder, and that Cuban doctors did not want to operate again for fear of complications. That leaves radiation the last hope. If he responds well to further treatments, the Venezuelan doctor told ABC, he might live until next spring. Otherwise, he may not last the year.

Forecasting such things is not easy even when the medical records of the patient are available. So it is important to recognize that at this point independent analysis has to be treated as speculation.

Mr. Chávez insists that his Cuban treatments are working and that he is ready to govern the country for another six years should he win the presidential election in October. But at Holy Thursday services in his home state of Barinas he let slip that things might be otherwise. “Give me your crown, Jesus. Give me your cross, your thorns so that I may bleed. But give me life, because I have more to do for this country and these people. Do not take me yet,” a teary eyed Mr. Chávez pleaded.

In a country run by one man for the past 13 years, it is impossible to overestimate the popular hunger for information on Mr. Chávez’s condition. Even the many who dislike the strongman are worried about what might happen if he fails to prepare for his demise by naming a successor.

Increased violence is one likely outcome. The United Venezuelan Socialist Party (PSUV) and Mr. Chávez’s government are almost one and the same and both have become radicalized. Dissent is expressly forbidden, as evidenced by last month’s expulsion from the party of the governor of Monagas for his audacious questioning of the safety of drinking water from a local river after an oil spill.

Analysts now talk of the possibility of a struggle between the military and civilian factions that are armed. Independent of the military, the National Guard runs narcotics-trafficking routes through the country and the lucrative gasoline-smuggling businesses at the Colombian border. It also has a financial stake in who succeeds Mr. Chávez.

Mr. Chávez manages to keep the factions in line, but his death without a will is likely to provoke a free-for-all. The winner could seize the mantle of the sainted revolutionary and use it to put a new lock on power. Mr. Chávez would be gone but chavismo would live on.

Write to O’Grady@wsj.com

Fuente WSJ.com


El recrudecimiento de la violencia y el estallido de enfrentamientos entre facciones civiles armadas y militares en Venezuela, son escenarios posibles en caso de que el presidente Hugo Chávez no sobreviva al cáncer, según el diario The Wall Street Journal.

El periódico afirma que con la muerte de Chávez, probablemente el prolongado declive del país continuará “ el pronto fallecimiento podría hacer del chavismo casi una religión”, al igual que la muerte de Eva Perón en Argentina dio origen a una imagen mesiánica, mítica lo que produjo el  “culto al peronismo”.

Tras calificar de “pobre la nación que cae presa de la demagogia”, el artículo publicado por el Journal reseña las “chapucerías”  del tratamiento médico dado a Chávez en Cuba, y las versiones dadas por el doctor venezolano José Rafael Marquina, según las cuáles el cáncer del presidente hizo metástasis.

Marquina, quien reside en Florida y alega disponer de información de primera mano sobre el estado médico de Chávez, declaró previamente al diario español ABC que si el presidente responde bien al tratamiento podría vivir hasta la próxima primavera, pero si no, no llegaría hasta fin de año.

Chávez insiste en que la atención que recibe en Cuba funciona –dice elJournal– y que está listo para gobernar otros seis años después de las elecciones de octubre, pero durante el Jueves Santo en su estado natal de Barinas imploró por su vida y dejó entrever que las cosas podrían ser de otra manera.

El diario destaca que tanto el Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela como el propio gobierno se han radicalizado, que la disidencia está prohibida y que
los analistas “hablan ahora de la posibilidad de una lucha entre facciones de militares y civiles armados”.

Luego apunta que “Chávez podría desparecer pero el chavismo perduraría”, porque la Guardia Nacional venezolana controla las rutas del narcotráfico en el país y el lucrativo negocio del contrabando de gasolina en la frontera con Colombia, y con su sucesión –dice—también están en juego intereses financieros.