Venezuela’s Uncertain Future?

President Hugo Chavez
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Jan. 11, 2013: Thursday, Jan. 10th was inauguration day in Venezuela but the man who has set to be sworn in as President for another term, Hugo Chavez, 58, was far away, in Cuba, reportedly in a hospital convalescing after a complex cancer surgery.

On Wednesday, Jan. 9th, the Supreme Court ruled that he could delay his inauguration past the Jan. 10 date set by the constitution. Now the Council of the Americas wants to know “What are the prospects and possible scenarios for change? What will be the implications for Venezuela’s economy, politics, and foreign policy? How should the United States and other hemispheric countries respond?”

These issues will be discussed by a stellar panel the COA has put together for January 14th from 10:30 a.m. at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Root Room – 2nd Floor, 1779 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, D.C.

Speakers include Charles Shapiro, President, Institute of the Americas, former U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela; Russell Dallen, President and Editor-in-Chief, Latin American Herald Tribune, Caracas and Christopher Sabatini, Editor-in-Chief, Americas Quarterly and Senior Director of Policy, Americas Society/Council of the Americas.
The forum comes as the opposition in Venezuela and some constitutional experts say the president of the National Assembly should take over on an interim basis as President, which would still give Chavez up to 180 days to return and be sworn in. But government has said no to that idea.
Chávez’s anointed political heir, Vice President Nicolas Maduro, is running the government.

On Thursday, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, said in statements to the press that the hemispheric body “fully respects the decision of the constitutional powers of Venezuela regarding the inauguration of the President of that country.”

“The issue has been resolved by the three branches of government of Venezuela: it was presented by the executive, considered by the legislature and decided by the judiciary”. The possibilities have been exhausted and therefore the process that will take place in that country is that which has been decided by the three powers,” said Secretary General Insulza.

The head of the hemispheric institution added that the Venezuelan state authorities “chose a path that allows time for the situation to be ascertained and provides a waiting period for the President-elect to be sworn in again.”

Responding to a question from journalists, the Secretary General said “if any country wants to take up this or any other topic in the OAS, they can bring it to the Permanent Council.” He added that “the OAS participates when there is institutional crisis between the powers of a state, but here there is no need for any authority of the Venezuelan state to rule on the issue. They must interpret the Constitution and how they interpret it is their prerogative.”