Friday, June 24, 2011

Chavez croaking? Well, maybe.....

UPDATED (twice).   Yesterday I was dismissing the situation of Chavez extended absence as at least part showmanship; but today I am forced, courtesy of a post from Gustavo, to rethink that things might be much, much worse than I thought.  I do not know how trustworthy is Gustavo's source, but the thing is that his "conspiracy theory" matches so many things so well that, that as Italians would say, si non e vero, e ben trovato.  And thus, even if this blogger is always reticent on reporting rumors, for once he will make an exception.

In short, Chavez would be suffering from a prostate cancer that has metastasized.

This already would explain several things: why Chavez never remarried; why he occasionally seems to get all bloated; why his ample clothing when he does an extended cadena as it could hide adult diapers better; why the mystery around the whole thing as prostate surgery for a macho man is tantamount to recognize that he is not that macho anymore.

Since the post of Gustavo is in Spanish, follows my interpretation of his text in English.

Apparently the "knee" problem was a way to hide the prostate surgery which today can be dealt well enough in a couple of weeks.  But if we are to believe Gustavo the post biopsy was not encouraging and they decided to do some advanced body scans which in Venezuela can only be done in a couple of private clinics.  Not only Chavez entourage would not trust the discretion of private clinics but it would have been also an admission that the "socialist" care was not as performing as the "capitalist" care since the regime had not been able to match the equipment of the private sector for "el pueblo".  Thus the trip to Cuba.  One caveat here: where would have Chavez got prostate surgery in full discretion?  Has he set an O.R. inside Miraflores or Fuerte Tiuna?

Before, for show, Chavez stopped in Brazil and Ecuador and that must have been a mistake because he got a post op infection.  And also some people found him walking strangely well for someone with an alleged serious knee injury.  Arriving in Cuba he got feverish soon and they had to drain the abscess.  That would  have been the real "emergency" part.  In a way that was a convenient excuse to justify Chavez stay while the real stuff was being done, namely the body scans.

He seems to have recovered well enough form his infection but apparently the scans were not good and they decided to start radiotherapy.  Another caveat: why not chemotherapy?  The more so that he has metastasized.  A explanation is that under chemo he would have had to resign temporarily since you might go bonkers during the treatment.  Chavez cannot go for an interim prez to preserve his tough image of caudillo.  Whatever it is, the lone photo of him in Havana shows him rather gaunt and leaning on both Castro brothers.  Some people said it reeked of Photoshop but then again...  it matches the symptoms.

According to Gustavo's source, the radio therapy will take 25 days twice, with a ten days rest, which explains quite well how they keep postponing the return announcement.  In fact they are trying to postpone the traditional July 5th parade to the eight which pretty much would fall in between two treatments, maybe allowing Chavez to set foot in Venezuela for a couple of days.  After all if you travel in a plane with a medical bed incorporated, well, you can manage the round trip with a minimum of damage.

The problem is that radio therapy also leaves visible sequels that must be explained (I do not think it includes loss of hair unless it is coupled with some form of chemo).  Thus the regime is faced with the unavoidable problem to have to fess up and admit Chavez sickness.  And this for sure explains all the nervousness within the grandees of the regime left behind to mind the joint.  That is, the drastic reactions to events that do not deserve such reactions, the mistakes in handling the jail crisis, etc,..  as the regime upper echelons know what is going on, or suspect it considering the shroud of silence which is worse than any serious medical communique.  In other words within chavismo there is at the same time a succession war open, probably where Cuba is trying to pick its next viceroy, AND a sauve qui peut (1) as all the corrupt fortunes are bailing out of doge before they get arrested in a post Chavez regime, even if led by a chavista.

Do I believe it?  Not yet but it is awfully tempting.  However let me make something perfectly clear: THIS WOULD BE POSSIBLY THE VERY WORST CASE SCENARIO FOR VENEZUELA.

With such an end for Chavez, he will become a hero of sorts, a mythical figure and chavismo will last for decades more.  Exactly as it happened in Argentina when after his return Peron died just before things started getting worse and as such peronism could survive Isabelita, Lopez Rega, Videla, the Falklands, etc, etc...  as it was, of course, not of Peron's making.  That Peron was at the source of all of this did not matter, he was not alive during these crisis. If Cristina is at it today it is becasue Peron died conveniently 4 decades ago.

To get a chance to be a renewed country Venezuela needs to oust Chavez in such a way that he can go to trial, alive and well to understand the charges, and collapse in nerves on the accused stand.

At any rate, there you have your conspiracy theory du jour, one that could lead us straight into a lot of conflict and economic crisis.  NOT that Chavez is indispensable, he is not, but the way he and the Cubans have handled the situation they are, willingly or not, setting the stage for a lot of trouble that could have been avoided if from the start they woudl have fessed up and name Jaua interim president for, say, three months.

Just as it was for Hitler in the end, Chavez personal agenda and glory wishes trump any consideration for the well being of the country.


1) "save who may"

UPDATE: it seems that the prostate cancer is getting credibility.  The Wall Street Journal reports it.

UPDATE2:  Chavez twitter @chavezcandanga is back to life after 20 days silent.  Unfortunately it is posted through blackberry and those in the know say there is no berry service in Cuba.  I put up a little picture of the return of Chaevz for those who wish to verify that information which wold prove that there is at least two people managing @chavezcandanga: himself and an "assistant" not in Cuba.

Chavez back on twitter?

Correction: it is not blackberry that does not work in Cuba, it is twitter (follow Yoani Sanchez on her twitting through SMS). I meant to write "twitter through Blackberry".  But then again Chaevz might have come with his own berry transmission system, no?


  1. Daniel, I've been reading this blog for longer than I care to remember. I suspect history is in the making, while it might be tempting to watch it would be wise to remember that history is usually all about kinetic action (sweet Jesus, who invented that?). So GTFO or keep your head down and don't volunteer for anything unless it's vital.


    Good luck and God be with you.

  2. Yesterday when I saw a pic of Chavez on Miguel's blog, the first thing that came to my mind was Cancer.His face had the gray pallor of advancing Cancer.Not a good sign when things get that visible.

    I don't think it is a matter of believing or not.It is a matter of keeping an open mind every step of the road to find the way out of this mess, and what looks like the best bet in the moment which could change tomorrow.

    I am hopeful that this will be a possibility for an important opening for a change into a different reality.Once the ball starts to roll strongly in a certain direction, inertia( our habitual state) will maintain the ride.

  3. Daniel,

    Assuming that all of this is true, and I am not yet convinced, I think the manner in which this was hidden, the type of illness, and other factors, make your comparison to Peronism not apt. Since you have mentioned it, I sat and thought about it, but with these particular circumstances your scenario just doesn't ring true for me.

  4. Charly2:57 PM

    To be taken with a grain of salt. But if true and they start moving him back and forth in between treatments, that spells disaster.

    Personally, I prefer this rumor I found on the web this morning and that appeals more to my Gallic temper. Apparently a high official of the Cuban security service found him in bed with his wife and shot him in the foot. Eso hace sentido, si puede meter los cachos al pueblo venezolano, lo puede tambien a un oficial cubano.

  5. Roy

    Which scenario?

    Today's would supersede the peronist one, no?

  6. Anonymous4:39 PM

    Here is my conspiracy theory:

    Chavez was beig treated for an ingrown toenail when the lights went out in the operating room. All electrical power in Havana was being routed to Castro's life support machines at that precise moment due to an emergency caused by a big meal. In the midddle of the confusion the Cuban doctors pulled out what they thought was the toenail, but got it wrong when Chavez fell on the floor in fear of the darkness. The PC story is just a plausible explanation to hide the understandable mistake.

  7. From the beginning, I thought the reason for going to Cuba was the secrecy, not the quality of the health care. There is definitely something to hide. I think the photo with the Castros reinforced that. It was extremely reminiscent of the occasional photos of Fidel following his problems, released at odd intervals to show that he is (relatively) hale. The timing of those sometimes suggested that his condition was somewhat variable, and they only released pictures from his good days. And Hugo's right arm in that picture clearly says something is wrong. Who is supporting whom?

    The X factor with Chavez right now is the live phone call, the one made a few days after his "emergency" surgery. Why the silence since then? It suggests he is less his normal self since that day. In other words, he is not simply recovering from surgery on the typical upward trajectory.

    So something is wrong, undoubtedly. It isn't necessarily cancer, but that certainly fits.

  8. Anonymous6:08 PM

    "With such an end for Chavez, he will become a hero of sorts, a mythical figure and chavismo will last for decades more. Exactly as it happened in Argentina when after his return Peron died[...]"

    The question here is: which does chavismo resemble the most? Nazism or Peronism?

    Chavism is a personality cult with no actual principles, ideas, thoughts, or anything other than worshiping "El Caudillo™". Without Chavez, there's nothing else. There will be lots of chavistas trying to take advantage of Chavez's death, but none of them have any charisma of their own. Even if some of the poor still idolize Chavez, it doesn't mean they'll immediately follow any idiot who carries a Chavez poster.

    Always keep in mind one very important detail: everyone, even the most ardent chavista, hates everyone in chavezdom whose name isn't Hugo Chavez. Everyone hates Diosdado, Jaua, the other Chavez brothers, Cilia, etc., etc. Maybe in 20 years another charismatic dictator-wannabe would be capable of harnessing the Chavez myth for a political victory, but absolutely no one in current-day chavismo can do that. Chavez made sure of that himself.

  9. I don't know if the thoery is true. It is plausible, but so are other scenarios.

    However, I disagreee that the demise of Chavez in this way would guarantee that his legend and party would survive, that it would be the "worst possible scenario".

    The worst possible scenario for Venezuela would be a Yankee coup. The second worst would be the establishment of a one party dictatorship a la Cuba. If neither of those occur, a post-Chavez government can easily find much to discredit him if it wishes.

    Many leader-heavy parties collapse when el supremo disappears. Some will remember Abaimael Guzman, or "Marcial" in El Salvador.

    Concentrating power in one person is, on balance, a weakness, because much of the electoral success is based on personality, not policies.


    Not so sure. Chavez's "socilistic" regime is not like Al Qaeda, where the head snake dies, he becomes a glorified martyr.. Venezuelan people are a lot less fanatical and religious than that.. as long as there are arepas y la polar. There would hardly be anyone left with the charisma of this Chabruto caricature.. No one nearly as deviant and persistent, no other scoundrel of his caliber.

    Dead is best. The sooner, the better. I hope his prostate exploded last night. Then we'll deal with the bunch of indio hala-bolas 'revolucionarios' left behind..

  11. Sledge is correct in his psychological assessment of the Venezuelan character and their possible reaction to the demise of Chavez.That would break the spell.

    Will there be problems? Sure; inevitable at any point, but that has to be faced.

  12. Boludo Tejano1:38 AM

    Jeffrey House
    The worst possible scenario for Venezuela would be a Yankee coup. The second worst would be the establishment of a one party dictatorship a la Cuba.

    "Establishment of a one party dictatorship in Cuba." And what has Cuba had since January 1,1959 ? Democracy?

    Are you trying out for a stand-up comedian position?

  13. Boludo Tejano2:57 AM

    Looks like I am the stand-up comedian. I read Jeffrey House's comment too quickly, not carefully enough, and incorrectly. He stated not in Cuba, but a la Cuba- in the Cuban manner.

    My apologies.

  14. Chavez is embedded in the Venezuelan psyche for quite a long time, if not forever. A debilitated, weakened, sick Chavez is far from the worst scenario possible in my mind. Things get worse by the day, with him sick and or half way out of the picture, there will be little celebration. The worst possible scenario is that an opposition facing a weakened Chavez decides to splinter in groups and Chavizmo sin Chavez become a valid option in the future.

  15. Jeffryhouse@hotmail.com6:04 AM

    I guess "a la cubana" would have been clearer.

  16. Fabien274:13 PM

    @moderator: seems that post by "adventurouslover" is spam - you may want to consider deletion. Thanks. (no need to publish this)

  17. Boludo Tejano6:07 PM

    Uncanny how often Thugo gets compared to Juan Domingo Perón. It keeps coming up. Here are some of the comparisons.

    1) Demagogic populists who baited the rich to garner support.[That may be redundant.]
    2) Military- both Colonels.
    3) Although both were elected, both had dictatorial tendencies.
    4) Messianic ambitions.
    5) Yanqui-phobic.
    6) Both took part in coups – only one successful- before they wee elected.
    7) Corruption on their teams- though the Chavistas win this one hands down.
    8) Childhood in the hinterlands- though Perón spent only a part of his childhood in Patagonia, whereas Thugo was Barinas born and bred.

    Here is another take on the Chávez-Perón comparison. If current reports are correct- and I wager that they are- there is also a cancer connection with Hugo Chávez Frias and the Peróns. Cancer had an effect on Juan Domingo’s losing his aura, or at least in diminishing it. In both cases, the cancer had to do with the sexual apparatus. Similarly, cancer may result in Thugo losing some of his aura.

    While Juan Domingo was El Caudillo (1) and Evita publicly proclaimed her devotion to him and to Peronismo- Evita was an invaluable part of the team. Some have called Dick Cheney the most powerful US Vice President. I would place Evita’s relative assistance and importance to the number one man on their respective teams to be higher than Cheney’s. Much higher.

    More than Juan Domingo, Evita had her finger on the pulse of the Argentine populace. She made up the eyes and ears of the Perón team. Granted, she came off occasionally as a bit unhinged- "Let's storm Barrio Norte"- but so does Thugo. "Yanqui de mierda" is but one example. Through her ceaseless public appearances, she kept conveying to the Peronista descamisados etc that the Peróns were on their side. She was also able to report back to Juan Domingo how their people were responding and what was on their minds. That way Juan Domingo could better modulate his messages to garner support.

    After Evita died from cervical cancer, without her assistance her husband lost his touch – or at least some of it- with the populace. I think that Evita would have helped him find a way to finesse his subsequent conflicts with the Church and others. Had Evita not gotten ill and died, I wager that Juan Domingo would have died in office after a three decade reign as President, instead of being ousted in the 1955 coup. By hook or by crook perhaps - but that was in the Peronista - and in the Chavista- manner. Granted, Juan Domingo still did die in office, but with Evita by his side, I wager he would not have had that 18 year hiatus.

    Moreover, had Evita been Vice President at the time Juan Domingo died, she would have been a much more effective Chief Executive than Isabel, who as a Chief Executive was a good dancer- which is what Isabel was doing when she met Juan Domingo. Had Evita maintained her health, she could have maintained the Perón dynasty until dying in her 70s some time in the 1990s.

    Roy, I am perhaps biased in favor of making comparisons with Thugo and Perón due to my time in Argentina. To further show my bias: I begin my day by drinking yerba mate, but in a Yanqui manner- sin bombilla.

    1) El Caudillo was also the title of a 1970s Peronista magazine still available in used book stores after the 1976 coup.
    2) I highly recommend books on the Peróns that Tomás Eloy Martínez has written, either in English or in Spanish: Santa Evita, The Perón Novel. I have not read The Lives of the General and Memoirs of the General, but they do deal with Juan Domingo.

  18. fabien

    i know, but i am leaving it up becasue it is funny to see how the image of Chavez has degraded that now spammers use it in a counter intuitive way.

    and if i say this, in case this is some sick chavista trap, i hurry to express without any ambiguity that i wish Chavez speedy recovery because i want to see him standing on the accused dock in some court of justice, the sooner the better.

  19. If he pushes up daisies, I think the Chavista's and the opposition will splinter into groups. Which will splinter into the fewest groups?? I think that will be the question.

  20. Bridge11:43 PM

    I dont know if you want to put it on the comments!/WikileaksAR

  21. ChileJohn12:45 AM

    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is hospitalized in Cuba and is in critical condition, according to a report published in the Miami, Florida-based El Nuevo Herald newspaper.

    He was last heard from on June 12 when his voice was broadcast on a telephone call with Venezuelan state television. At the time, the president told the interviewer doctors had found no sign of of "malignant" illness.

    An official statement from the Venezuelan government said Chavez had been operated on for a pelvic abcess on June 10 in Havana. At the time he was in Cuba on an official state visit.

    However, the report quoted unnamed U.S. intelligence sources who said Chavez is currently in "critical condition, not grave, but critical, in a complicated situation."

    According to the EFE news agency, the president's daughter Rosines and his mother Marisabel Rodriguez "urgently" were flown to Cuba in a Venezuelan air force plane either Wednesday or Thursday last week.

  22. ChileJohn12:57 AM

    WikileaksAR Wikileaks Argentina
    by captainccs
    ALERT! The president of Venezuela Hugo Chavez died in Cuba this morning.
    5 hours ago

    I don't know if this is true!

  23. To the various parties that are passing on comments regarding Chavez having died: While I know that the internet is a barely regulated free-for-all, I think it is a bit irresponsible to be passing on such unsubstantiated reports. I speak as someone who is in Venezuela. As much as I want to see change come to this country, I want to see it come in as calm and organized manner as possible. Spreading rumors such as the ones above isn't helpful... IMHO.

  24. RabbiBulla5:13 AM

    everyone-Attention, please! Chavez is simply hiding out in Venezuela-after threats on his life from FARC- very serious threats from FARC within WITHIN Venezuela. That is why he is in
    Cuba-and 5th of July is coming up. (200th Anniversary of Independence for Venezuela) It is impossible for Chavez to "miss that" without using the excuse of "grave illness"..This whole thing is played like a cheap novella-soap opera. More details later

  25. RabbiBulla5:17 AM

    Sorry- in my haste- I meant CHavez is hiding inCuba- why- because Venezuela is crawling
    IS CRAWLING with FARC- and Chavez lying about that does not change the facts on the
    ground. There are/HAVE BEEN FARC in Venezuela.
    Chavez-just turned over 7 seven FARC to Colombia...and promised to start paying back
    Colombia and "cooperating" on antiterrorism-blah-blah-blah.
    ANd- the situation in the Middle East- CHavez is hot- I mean "too hot" -he had to cool off,
    lay low- what better plan that to FAKE being sick -and turn the tables and get sympathy
    from the ignorant poor -when he was so exposed for corruption and involvement with the
    terrorist groups-Iran, Libya, Syria..

  26. We can speculate on anything, but nothing is certain yet.
    Another pure speculation, though it is based on some truth:

    As a practitioner of Santeria perhaps Chavez is looking for Cuban protection against all the 'trabajos' he has on top of him :) and is suffering from the boomerang effect from all the 'trabajos' he has done against others to stay in power.

    Whether or not you or I believe makes no difference.It matters that THEY believe.

  27. chilejohn

    please, let's be serious and stop putting up any nonsense that pops in twitter.

  28. There is one thing I feel quite sure of: we will never know the whole truth of what is happening with Chavez.

    In an authoritarian government the truth has to be suppressed at ALL costs.

    Of course anyone with 2 eyes can see he is sick just by looking at his photographs...unless the photos are not true representations of how he looks :)

  29. Anonymous7:04 PM

    Dead IS best!!! The SOONER THE BETTER.

  30. Boludo Tejano9:03 PM

    Here is another Peron/Chavez connection.
    Thugo will do all he can to make the July 5th Bicentennial, even if it is only for a 15 minute appearance. Regardless of his medical condition, he will all he can do to be there, and use whatever assistance he will need to make his appearance.

    While Evita Peron was dying of cancer, she still made public appearances. For some public appearances,she had a plaster frame underneath her coat to support her. You can also see photos of Juan Domingo holding her up during some of her final public appearances.

    Thugo will have the same determination to make the Bicentennial Celebration on July 5.

    Disclaimer: I am not predicting a similar medical outcome for Thugo, as I and others do not know enough. But as mamá has publicly expressed concern, there has to be something going on.

  31. Tejano, I really enjoyed your Peron discourse. Great read. You didn't say this, but I think you will agree: the reason Cheney was not as powerful as Evita was that he derived his power from Bush, whereas Peron derived at least some - much - of his power from Evita.

    In some ways, and this just occurred to me, Chavez is like Peron and Evita rolled into one.

  32. Boludo Tejano8:44 PM

    AIO: Thanks. I was wondering if it was a waste of time to post it.

    You didn't say this, but I think you will agree: the reason Cheney was not as powerful as Evita was that he derived his power from Bush, whereas Peron derived at least some - much - of his power from Evita.
    Agreed. It might be said that Juan Domingo owed his career to Evita. Although he was a minister in the 1943-45 junta, he was jailed- probably in an attempt to do away with a potentially dangerous rival. Evita played a big role in organizing the CGT demonstrations, and in speeches to same, which got Juan Domingo released from jail.

    In some ways, and this just occurred to me, Chavez is like Peron and Evita rolled into one.
    Agreed. Hugo is much more charismatic than Juan Domingo was. At least as I see it. To me, Juan Domingo looks a bit like Al Gore, though he had more charisma than Al. In fact, the corpse of Juan Domingo has more charisma than the live version of Al Gore.

    Be that as it may, I would rather have dull Al Gore as my President than a charismatic Juan Domingo or a charismatic Thugo.

  33. Yes, definitely agree on that last. It's sad to see people who want image more than substance.

    But have you ever seen Al Gore in person? I have, and I think he got a bad rap. Though maybe he just learned to relax post-politics.

  34. Narcissists and charismatics share similar traits including the desire for power and control.

    However that doesn't take Al Gore off the hook for other irritating qualities :)


Comments policy:

1) Comments are moderated after the sixth day of publication. It may take up to a day or two for your note to appear then.

2) Your post will appear if you follow the basic polite rules of discourse. I will be ruthless in erasing, as well as those who replied to any off rule comment.