Venezuela’s Chavez to skip summit due to health

BRASILIA/CARACAS,  (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will not attend a regional trade summit in Brazil today, sources said, an absence sure to heighten speculation over the leftist leader’s health.

Before he went to Cuba last week for more cancer-related treatment, Chavez had spoken enthusiastically about attending the Mercosur bloc’s meeting in Brasilia to celebrate Venezuela’s entry.
He has not been seen in public since Nov. 15.

“Chavez is not coming. They’ve even canceled the hotel reservation,” a Brazilian foreign ministry source said on Thursday. Another Brazilian official said Chavez’s logistics and security advance staff were leaving Brasilia.
In Caracas, a source at the Miraflores presidential palace also said Chavez, 58, was not going to travel.

The recently re-elected president went to Cuba nine days ago for “hyperbaric oxygenation” treatment – normally used to treat bone decay caused by radiation therapy.

Chavez has had three cancer surgeries in Cuba since mid-2011. So even though officials were portraying the latest treatment as normal follow-up after radiation, rumors are rampant that it could be more serious.

Hugo Chavez

“If Chavez does not show up at the first meeting where Venezuela is a full member of Mercosur, it will create a lot of distrust over his health,” said Marcelo Coutinho, professor of international relations at Rio de Janeiro’s Federal University.
Officials have given no detailed information on Chavez’s condition.

His presence in Cuba, where Chavez has spent more than three months in total since his first 2011 diagnosis of cancer in the pelvic region, has overshadowed Dec. 16 regional elections.

Without him on the campaign trail or television, the race for 23 governorships has been a low-key one, failing to light up the public like October’s presidential election did with a record voter turnout of more than 80 percent.

Although Chavez continues to sign official papers and make appointments from Cuba, his absence may delay decisions on some major issues like a possible devaluation of the bolivar currency or an amnesty for jailed opponents.
Various ministers have been visiting him in Havana this week, according to Venezuelan officials.

Chavez allies have lambasted media and others for behaving like “vampires” with speculation about his condition. One pro-opposition journalist said he was using a wheelchair. Bonds have rallied since his departure, on investor hopes for a change to a more business-friendly government.

Newly appointed Vice President Nicolas Maduro, 49 – a former bus driver and union leader – has assumed a more prominent position amid speculation among Venezuelans over who could replace Chavez should he leave office.
Maduro, who is also foreign minister, was due to represent Venezuela at the Mercosur meeting in Brazil.

Congress chief Diosdado Cabello, a former military comrade of Chavez, is also often touted as a possible successor to lead the ruling Socialist Party.

Under the constitution, an election would have to be held if Chavez were to leave office within the first four years of his new six-year term, which starts on Jan. 10.

That would give a fresh chance to the opposition, which garnered 44 percent of the vote – and a record number of 6.5 million votes – in the October presidential poll.

An internal U.N. report seen by Reuters drew three possible scenarios.

“If Chavez lives, his term will continue to face monumental political, economic and security challenges. If Chavez accepts his mortality and organizes a managed transition, a unified PSUV would likely fare well in a snap election,” the report said.

“If Chavez dies unexpectedly without a clear successor, a unified opposition – likely behind former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski – would stand its best chance to come to power in over a decade.”

default placeholder

Shareholders plan sees Clico retaining six companies

(Trinidad Guardian) The United Shareholders Limited’s plan to deal with Clico’s residual debts to Government envisages that CL Financial retain control of six companies—including Angostura Holdings Limited, Colfire Ltd and Home Construction Ltd—and that there be a joint approach among shareholders and Government to steer Clico’s future.

Camille Robinson-Regis

T&T Cabinet agrees to pay cane farmers final TT$58m payment

(Trinidad Guardian) Cabinet has decided to pay cane farmers the final settlement of TT$57,965,675 of the compensation package promised back in 2007.

default placeholder

T&T petrol dealers facing crisis – association head

(Trinidad Guardian) President of the Petroleum Dealers’ Association of T&T, Robindranath Naraynsingh, on Thursday said the country’s 170 gas stations were on the verge of collapse due to poor profitability margins from the sale of fuel.

default placeholder

U.S., Cuba hold ‘substantive’ second round talks on claims

WASHINGTON/HAVANA July 29 (Reuters) – The United States and Cuba have concluded a “substantive” second round of talks on multibillion-dollar claims against one another in Washington and agreed to hold more regular meetings on the matter, a State Department Official said yesterday.

Pleased with victory: Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) Information Technology Officer, Kerwin Simmons, who claimed to have faced racial discrimination and victimisation at his work place, is all smiles following an Equal Opportunity Tribunal (EOT) judgment in his favour at the EOT’s office on Manic Street, Chaguanas on Thursday.

T&T Equal Opportunity tribunal rules: Employee of African descent discriminated against in favour of East Indian

(Trinidad Express) A Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) employee who had accused the State agency of racial discrimination was on Thursday awarded TT$186,000 plus interest in compensation by the Equal Opportunity Tribunal (EOT).

Robindranath Naraynsingh

T&T petrol dealers facing crisis – association head

(Trinidad Guardian) President of the Petroleum Dealers’ Association of T&T, Robindranath Naraynsingh, yesterday said the country’s 170 gas stations were on the verge of collapse due to poor profitability margins from the sale of fuel.


About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: