The point of my “Where’s Waldo?” posts, which I started a few weeks back, was to keep track of Hugo Chávez’s increasingly rare public appearances. These posts, however, are no fun if the President simply vanishes.
As of today, Hugo Chávez has not tweeted, been seen, or been heard from since November 15th. That’s three weeks with no word of the man.
Today, we learn that a much anticipated summit in Brazil – one which he had vowed to attend - will not be graced by his presence. This begs the questions: is he even alive still? Is he conscious? Who is running the country?
My wife Katy recently had to take over as chair of her university department after the official chair was in a car accident. Although he emerged from his three-week coma, he has been slow to recover, and will not take up his duties in the near future.
The other day, however, he showed up at the department, completely incoherent but wanting to retake his position, talking about the people he was going to fire. All hell broke loose, and higher powers had to intervene to solve the problem of the two chairs.
Multiply that by a million and you probably have Venezuela. As we sink deeper and deeper into a power vacuum, one has to wonder what the outcome will be, and who will become the final arbiter.
The public is obviously being lied to, and it’s a fantasy to think that the transition within chavismo will be smooth. Furthermore, what legitimacy will any Chávez-appointed successor other than Maduro have … if we don’t even know if the man is coherent?
It’s amazing that the majority of the nation has thrust the rest of us in this untenable, highly uncertain situation. A teetering economy, a soaring crime rate, a veritable narco-state … and no one is at the helm.
People sometimes say that when voters elect the wrong person, the nation has “committed suicide.” By tying their fate to that of a dying man, Venezuelans may well have done that … literally.