What’s next for Venezuela?

This week, Venezuela has been dominating international headlines due to the death of President Hugo Chavez.

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Since my trip to Venezuela last fall, the country has been on my mind. In my last trip to Venezuela, I did not meet a single Chavez supporter. When he won the election, I worried that things would fall into chaos there; however, things seemed to remain calm, and I was impressed.

Now that Chavez has passed away, I wonder what is next for Venezuela?

The Venezolano constitution mandates the following:

  • The Vice-President (who is appointed by the President–not elected by the people) serves as Interim President until the next election; and
  • The next election must be called within 30 days.

As such, Vice-President Nicolas Maduro was sworn in on Friday, March 8th, and he has indicated that elections will be held in 30 days.

This seems like an enormous feat. How on Earth will this country of 28 million be able to organize a presidential election in such a short period of time? If they are able to pull this off, I will be seriously impressed.

I have to admit that, once I learned of the passing of Chavez, my thoughts turned immediately to Henrique Capriles Radonski. He is the leader of the opposition party in Venezuela, and ran unsuccessfully against Chavez last October.

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Apparently, Capriles is gearing up to run against Maduro; however, from what I have been able to gather in the media, it seems that Maduro is favoured to win. We will see what happens.

In the meantime, it seems that, once again, I will be in Venezuela at the time of a presidential election, as I will be heading down there for Expo-Estudiante. Will I witness history, or will it be more of the same?

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