Caracas – The deadline for President Hugo Chavez to be sworn in for a new period is less than 48 hours away, with different sides hardening up their positions with street demonstrations, public pronouncements and, in one case, a “Twitter raid” that’s reminiscent of the Arab Spring of 2011.
Miranda State Gov. Henrique Capriles gave a press conference with Henri Falcon Tuesday in which he called for cooler heads to prevail in Venezuela.
“Anarchy and conflict in the country are not convenient for anybody," Capriles said.
Others in the opposition are more eager to initiate a process, however, that would lead to new presidential elections if Chavez is deemed unfit to assume a new term.
“If Chavez is not sworn in in 48 hours, January 10th, then we do not have a president, the legal thing would be for the President of the National Assembly (The Venezuelan Congress) to assume the duties of president and to initiate the constitutional process” that would lead to elections in three to six months, opposition lawmaker Carlos Michelangelo told Fox News Latino. “We, several of us lawmakers, we have met with constitutional experts and we have determined that yes, there is a vacuum of power, an atypical case. President Chavez himself said that he would perhaps not return from Cuba."
Assembly President Diosdado Cabello announced that on Jan. 10 lawmakers will not even convene for a regular session, regardless of the fact that Chavez has been seriously ill in Cuba for about a month now. Instead, Cabello said Chavismo will promote that day several street demonstrations in favor of Chavez continuing in power.
Cabello accused Capriles of being after Chavez’s office, saying “you are desperate, rascal."
Cabello, a former military officer, was one of the active-duty Army men who backed Chavez during the 1992 failed coup that launched the current president’s political career and was jailed together with Chavez for two years for that attempt.
By not taking the constitution-mandated succession steps “the (Chavista) government is being irresponsible,” said Michelangelo, a lawmaker for Eastern Venezuela’s oil and gas rich Anzoategui state.
Also on Tuesday, Information Minister Ernesto Villegas described Chavez’s status as being “stationary."
The rumors surrounding Chavez’s health and the process to succeed him have led to what could be Venezuela’s first “Twitter raid," a development that reminds some of the pre-eminent role played by the Internet during the 2011 Arab Spring.
Local news site Noticias 24 informed that on Sunday night officers from Sebin, the national intelligence service (with functions similar to those of the FBI in the U.S.) raided the house of one Federico Medina Ravell, allegedly for spreading tweets regarding the health of Chavez.
Medina is a cousin of Alberto Federico Ravell, a journalist and media entrepreneur noted for this opposition to the Chavez regime. Alberto Ravell admitted the relationship -- where else, on his Twitter account.
Carlos Camacho is a freelance writer based in Caracas. You can follow him @carloselpana.