Epiphany is January 6 and commemorates, supposedly, the three wise men that went to adore Jesus, even though by this time he was probably in Egypt already. But I digress... The fact of the matter is that a true epiphany is coming to Venezuela on January 5.
There is a whirlwind of rumors about what the hell is going on with Chavez in Havana. I do not share the theory that is is all a mere conspiracy theory and that Chavez is suddenly coming back on December 9 as the conquering hero, ready to be sworn in for a bright presidential term on January 10. I think the guy is rally sick and I am not willing to cross him out quite yet. But I have strong doubts that he will show up on January 10. Heck, we have not heard peep squeak from him since December 11 (I think). If the guy was indeed preparing himself to return to Caracas this weekend I am sure that we would have seen either a picture of him or heard at least a short from call on the air through VTV.
We must thus work on the 99% hypothesis that he will not be in Caracas on January 10 (note, I give it a 99% because there is always a 1% with these crazy guys, drama queenized to the tilt).
There is a huge "constitutional" debate about what article so and so means if Chavez does not show up. Well, first the Constitution says what chavista say it says. There is already significant concern about that as today we heard that from Brazil and the US that the Constitution should be applied din Venezuela. True, at least from Brazil that may mean they will recognize as constitutional what is convenient for them and ensures that Venezuela will pay its big debts to Brazilian companies.
I personally think that there are ways to manipulate the Constitution as to when new elections may have to be held if Chavez does not show up and a replacement is required. However there is one thing that apparently chavismo will not be able to by pass: if January 10 Chavez is not in Caracas to take office, then the provisional president is the chair of the National Assembly until elections are held. thus the date of January 5 (which can be postponed as late as January 9 I suppose) becomes crucial as it is the date when the National Assembly elects its chair for the 2013 legislative year.
Let's assume that chavismo is not going to be crazy enough to flout through and through the Constitution and that indeed a new National Assembly chair is sworn in before January 10. This will be our political epiphany because, well, the post Chavez era will officially start.
In case Diosdado Cabello retains his seat it may mean that indeed he will not seek to replace Chavez just yet. He will name a new government on January 10 (probably 90% recycled from the current one), Maduro will be out of office but the official candidate of chavismo and though some excuses that the calendar and the TSJ will provide (there is a holiday week in February we will have elections late February at the latest (because a month is too short but chavismo needs them ASAP anyway, so I am betting 40 days for election). Then again there is always the option of Diosdado deciding anyway on January 11 to run for office, or start some coup.
The second hypothesis is that Diosdado is not reelected chair of the National Assembly. Then, everything goes. If one of his minions is elected we can expect him to announce his candidacy even before January 10. If a Maduro loyalist is sworn in it may mean that the downfall of Diosdado has started and that the army has decided to abandon him and side with Maduro. And more craziness that I care not proceed with.
At any rate, we can now measure to its large extent the mistakes of the MUD and Capriles since October 7. Recognizing Chavez victory as they did, letting governors fend on their own without any basic program, only lead to a major sweep of chavismo on December 16. As a consequence of that sweep not only Capriles is now a faulty candidate but there is no easy replacement for him in sight and the opposition has less means, if any, to oppose even a candidate as lacking as Maduro. In short, we are woefully under prepared for the challenges that come as of today. Chavismo would be foolish not to seek an election that they could win with relative ease if held by March 15. But then again, the disarray within chavismo can offer us some surprises, from an outright "coup" alleging that after all a reelected Chavez does not need to be sworn in, to more simply a fatal division among chavismo that gives the victory to an opposition that will be unable to deal with the inheritance of Chavez and probably unable to hold to office for long.
Oh well, back to my vacation.....