Here is what Article 233 of our Constitution says (in my rough English translation):
“Article 233. The following are considered “absolute absences” of the President: his death, his resignation, or his being deposed by a sentence from the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, his permanent physical or mental incapacity as certified by a medical board designated by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice and approved by the National Assembly, the abandonment of his post declared as such by the National Assembly, as well as popular recall of his mandate.
When the absolute absence of the President Elect (emphasis is mine) happens before he takes the oath, a new election will be called in the following thirty days. While the new President is elected, the President of the National Assembly will take over as President.
If the absolute absence happens in the first four years of the Presidency, a new direct and secret election must be held in the next thirty days following the declaration of the absence. While the new President is elected, the Vicepresident will be in charge of the Presidency.
In the aforementioned cases, the new President will finish the corresponding term.
If the absolute absence happens during the last two years of the term, the Vicepresident will assume the Presidency until the term is completed.”
So, I’m no lawyer, but to me there is a contradiction here. If the President elect goes missing, the President of the National Assembly takes over. But if the President goes missing in the last two years of his term, the Vicepresident takes office. In this case, we would have both: the President elect AND the sitting President in the last two years of his term would go missing, but it’s the same person.
How does this get resolved? Does the first part take precedence over the second one? So we’re stuck with Godgiven in case Chavez croaks?
Furthermore – why is there nobody in the National Assembly calling for an absolute absence to be declared? All they need is a majority in the National Assembly. Can’t they convince a few of Godgiven’s minions to flip to our side and vote for his man to become President?
If Chavez wants to fight his case, let him come to Caracas and make it in person.
Update: Miguel has more background on this.