Venezuela's interim president knows how the first South American Pope was elected: the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez swayed Jesus. Nicolas Maduro said Chavez influenced Jesus, who then inspired the Cardinals to elect their first pope from the South American continent. In his own words, which are brilliant:
Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, who for many years took great glee in voicing anti-American sentiments, died this week at the age of 58, following a long battle with "an unspecified cancer in the pelvic region." Just before he died, Venezuelan vice president Nicholas Maduro ejected two U.S. diplomats from the country and vaguely charged them with infecting Chavez with cancer, saying he was "attacked with this illness."
Hours before the death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, Vice President Nicolás Maduro ejected two U.S. diplomats from the country, accusing them of plotting to "destabilize" Venezuela and implying that the U.S. had infected Chávez with cancer. "We have no doubt," Maduro said in a television address, that a scientific commission would find "that commander Chávez was attacked with this illness," comparing Chávez to Palestinian Yasser Arafat, whom Maduro suggested was also poisoned. The removed diplomats, U.S. Air Force attaché Col. David Delmonaco and another, unnamed military official, had, Maduro claimed, attempted to recruit members of the Venezuelan military into an unspecified plot against Venezuela. U.S. officials scoffed at the claims, and most observers understood Maduro's accusations against "imperialists" to be a fairly standard base-rallying move that Chávez himself had frequently resorted to in the past. Conspiracy theorists, nevertheless, turned to Venezuelan lawyer and commentator Eva Golinger, who claimed in an interview with Russia Today—the media wing of the administration of longtime Chávez ally Vladimir Putin—that there's evidence that the E.U. had had infected the president with cancer. She declined to present or describe this evidence. The U.S. has indicated it will likely ask some Venezuelan diplomats to leave the country over the next few days in response. Chávez's funeral is on Friday; Venezuela will hold elections in 30 days. [Reuters | WSJ | Ultimas Noticias]
Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, has died of cancer at age 58, Vice President Nicolás Maduro announced this afternoon. Chavez had been fighting the disease since 2011, flying twice to Cuba for surgeries, and hadn't been seen in public for months before his death. Nevertheless, the former paratrooper, who turned to democratic politics after being imprisoned over a failed military coup, was re-elected president last year thanks to huge support from the country's poor and working class.
Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi's reign is crumbling; two of his sons have been captured. But as rebels besiege Qaddafi's Bab Azaziya compound, nobody knows where the gristle-headed strongman is. Is he cowering beneath a human shield of Amazonian bodyguards in his compound? Is he sneaking off to Venezuela?
2012 is shaping up to be an exciting year for politics. A month after the U.S. presidential election Venezuela will hold its own, and Hugo Chávez said that he's running. He dropped the news to the Venezuelan newspaper Correo del Orinoco and gave a rare rare insight into his way of thinking: "On a personal level, I tell you I have never thought for even an instant of retiring from the presidency." Whoa, really?
No one has seen Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez for two weeks! (Well, not no one, but you know.) He flew to Cuba on June 10 for surgery on a pelvic abscess, speaking to media two days later to say he was fine, but he apparently hasn't returned to Venezuela since. According to the not-exactly-trustworthy government, Chavez is recovering well, but rumors abound that he is suffering from prostate cancer and may still be in "critical condition" in the hospital. (His daughter and mother were reportedly flown to Cuba, "urgently.") It's kind of unclear what would happen in the event of his death or incapacitation, given that Chavez is more or less an autocrat, not to mention a big jerk. "The US," The Daily Telegraph writes, "would hope to see a less hostile and more market-friendly candidate for the presidency emerge," which is a polite way of saying the CIA is going to be all up in that shit. [Telegraph]
The Western Hemisphere's biggest blowhard, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, stood behind his main man Muammar Qaddafi in the face of allied airstrikes today, calling the attacks "indiscriminate bombing." He added, "With Venezuela, don't even think about it, Mr. Obama." We're fairly sure no one gives a shit about you right now, Hugo. But keep trying!