If the earlier reports we shared are accurate Chavez is in a medically induced coma with a respirator to maintain his breathing function due to spinal metasteses of his cancer. The only reason to keep him *technically* alive is to insure he can pass the date of his inauguration Jan 10th, avert a constitutionally required re-election, and then his appointed replacement will take over. Here’s the latest:
CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chavez won’t be able to attend his scheduled swearing-in this week, Venezuela’s government announced Tuesday, confirming suspicions that the leader’s illness will keep him in a Cuban hospital past the key date.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro broke the news in a letter to National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, saying on the recommendation of Chavez’s medical team, his recovery process “should be extended beyond Jan. 10″ and for that reason he won’t be able to attend Thursday’s scheduled inauguration.
Maduro said Chavez was invoking a provision in the constitution allowing him to be sworn in before the Supreme Court at a “later date.” Cabello announced he had received the request during a legislative session.
Tensions between the government and opposition have been building in a constitutional dispute over whether the ailing president’s swearing-in can legally be postponed. The president underwent his fourth cancer-related surgery in Cuba last month and hasn’t spoken publicly in a month.
Opposition leader Henrique Capriles said earlier Tuesday that Chavez’s current term constitutionally ends Thursday and that the Supreme Court should rule in the matter.
Other opposition leaders have argued that the inauguration cannot legally be put off and that the National Assembly president should take over as interim president if Chavez hasn’t returned from Cuba on inauguration day.
“The Supreme Court has to take a position on what the text of the constitution says,” said Capriles, who lost to Chavez in presidential elections three months ago. “There is no monarchy here, and we aren’t in Cuba.”
However, Capriles said he saw no reason to bring a formal challenge to the Supreme Court because it was obliged to issue a ruling on the dispute. (read more)