|Venezuela after Chavez||
Ailing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez delegated some administrative duties to Vice President Nicolas Maduro in early December before travelling to Cuba for cancer surgery. Chavez has advised his followers to vote for Maduro in the future presidential election if he does not recover from his illness.
Chavez’s demise would create massive changes in Venezuela’s political scene. During his years in office, he successfully managed to steer the country through many ups and downs, while becoming extremely popular among the middle and lower classes of the society.
However, in the 2012 presidential election, the opposition groups reached a compromise and made an alliance against Chavez, and this led to a significant decrease in the number of votes cast for the incumbent president. Chavez’s deteriorating health encouraged the opposition factions to put aside their differences and to select a single candidate in order to oust him from power. However, the rise to power of the anti-Chavez camp would cause dissatisfaction among the poor and all those who benefited economically from Chavez’s policies. This may lead to unrest in a country that has had a great deal of economic and political instability in its history.
As Chavez’s close confidant, Maduro has taken charge of many presidential duties over the past few years. His conduct and method of leadership is a carbon copy of the president’s, albeit with a difference, since Maduro does not have his mentor’s flair for mobilizing the masses. Chavez’s charismatic personality and his ability to win over millions of Venezuelans through his rhetoric are regarded as the main pillars of his popularity among the people. Maduro should look for similar tools and methods to win the votes of the Chavez supporters. Otherwise, it will not be difficult for the opposition to push him out of office.
Iran-Venezuela relations will experience no significant change if Maduro becomes the next president. But if someone from the rival camp becomes president, there will be problems since the major opposition figures have all declared that reducing the level of ties with Iran is one of their main priorities.
Mansour Moazzami is a faculty member of the Petroleum University of Technology and an expert on Latin America based in Tehran.
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