I really do not understand how people let themselves be played around with Chavez cancer. I mean, is it not obvious that for a couple of months now he has started using his disease has an electoral card? He has little to show for 12 years of rule. The cancer seems almost a godsend for him as it allows him to play it for the masses as a victim, or a superhero that comes form the grave and what not, incubus included. That it is successful or not is not the issue, but that he manages to distract political discourse from his failures to his diseases is no mean feat.
Today we had yet another episode as El Nuevo Herald in Miami tells us of kidney failure in Chavez. That as a consequence of his chemotherapy Chavez may have some temporal kidney problem is not to be surprising. But El nuevo Herald, as it has done in the past, and considering its Cuban Exile influence, tried to grab the headlines And succeeded. It also succeeded unwillingly in giving Chavez an opportunity to promptly attack the private media as congenital liars.
Why do we (well, not me) succumb so easily to such manipulations? Why do we need to discuss, even to dismiss it, El Nuevo Herald? I even had a reader who sent me an article he published in Facebook on this subject. The fact of the matter is that I have come to think that Chavez and his Cuban "image" advisers are trying to play all us by releasing true and false "leaks" and see where that does lead them. Thus in an effort to calm all of you and to try to make you concentrate on more important things such as Venezuelan disaster, the opposition primary and other such assorted worthy undertakings, I am going to list some simple rules to help you keep your mental compass on the fixed North of your choice.
The transition will start only when it starts. Miguel pointed out that the main thing to watch for is the change in vice-president. I semi agree with him in that Jaua, obviouly not the successor of choice for Chavez or the Cubans, will leave the vicepresidency anytime soon anyway to run for Miranda Governor. What would be at the very least equally interesting is who succeeds him. If it is Maduro then the transition has started (though a couple of other names could be possible depending if they want Maduro to run in lieu of Chavez, for example Jose Vicente to run the country while Maduro runs the campaign, though very, very unlikely). If it is anyone else it means all and nothing.
This is all an internal matter of chavismo. All the rumors that circulate are more directed toward any possible succession war inside chavismo than any attempt at stirring the opposition into some crazy maneuver. We are not in 2002 anymore. The opposition has no way to trigger a coup today. If there is such a thing as a coup it is a product of Chavez succession wars when one side of chavismo does not get it and cannot accept that another side gets it. That the coup-mongering side tries to co-opt some inside the opposition is purely cosmetic. NONE of the main presidential contenders in the opposition would support a coup since it looks more and more likely that the winner of the primary in February will be the winner in October 2012. Why risk it all to please some corrupt military inside chavismo?
There is panic inside chavismo. This is of course due to Chavez obvious diseases (whatever incubic cancer this one is in the end). But it is also due, and people do not realize it quite well, that no matter where in chavistadom you are located, come October 8 2012 there is absolutely no job security for you. If the opposition wins, it is clear that a boatload of office holders will join the jobless lines. But if chavismo were to prevail there is little more security. If Chavez could not run, then if you were not on the side of chavista winner (Maduro, Cabello, etc, etc...) you are in trouble. But even if Chavez were to be reelected there is little job security because considering the economical situation of the country a few thousand to hundred of thousand of public workers will be laid off. They all know that and right now there is an effervescence of corruption to finish to pay off debts before October 2012. When such things are at stake do not be surprised that generating wild rumors inside chavismo is also valid warfare strategy to survive by flushing out the competition through their perceived reaction to rumors.
MY ADVICE? Stay put, relax, make some popcorn and watch. If you must, the only worthwhile rumors to follow show up in Venezuelan English Language blogs, Tal Cual or Globovision. El Universal is too serious for rumors even though it hosts Boccaranda.... The rest, you may consider at your own risks.