Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, will die, according to his doctors. These doctors have notified Chavez's family and the Venezuelan government that he has lost his voice and, after a fourth surgery failed to cure his cancer, the recently reelected president will not recover.
It has been more than 60 days since Chavez last appeared in public. Since then, he has been confined to a Cuban hospital and under the care of the Castro brothers. Unable to attend his own inauguration, Chavez left Vice President Nicolas Maduro in charge of the government for the time being. There have been concerns that Chavez's inauguration was illegal, and his death may plunge the nation into further chaos — with the hope of democratic rights being restored to a people long-oppressed by his socialist revolution.
If the reports of Chavez's death are true, then the Venezuelan supreme court is expected to make an official announcement within the next 24 hours. When the president is officially declared incapacitated, the opposition will no doubt double its arguments that Chavez's inauguration was unconstitutional. Maduro will make a play to maintain his power, and will have the backing of the Castros to succeed in Venezuela.
Per the Venezuelan constitution, since Chavez was never inaugurated a new election must be held. The argument of Chavez's government is that they have indefinitely postponed his swearing in, and that his government is currently just an extension of his previous administration. If Chavez dies, they lose any argument for postponing the election. When the Supreme Court announces that Chavez is not able to fulfill the duties of his office, they must order the government to hold a new election. Henrique Capriles Radonski, the opposition candidate in the last election, looks poised to turn things around.
Hugo Chavez's last major order, it seems, has been to devalue Venezuela's currency against the dollar. Economists have warned that this may lead to major inflation, doing further damage to Venezuela’s floundering economy. When economic unrest combines with political unrest, the results can be catastrophic. The next week will be very important to both the future of Venezuela and the entire region.