When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Venezuela

Is Something Seriously Wrong With Hugo Chávez?

Venezuela's normally bombastic president has been uncharacteristically quiet as he recovers from hip surgery in Cuba. Chávez's prolonged silence is now sparking rumors that his health condition could be far worse than officials sources a


EYES INSIDELATIN AMERICA

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez rarely misses an opportunity to deliver incendiary, sometimes unconventional observations on the events happening in his country and elsewhere. Which is why his silence on events like the recent national guard raid on El Redeo, one of the country's most notorious penitentiaries, speaks volumes.

On June 17, some 5,000 Venezuelan troops were sent in to confiscate weapons and drugs at El Redeo. The raid also ignited a riot outside the facility when concerned family members of the inmates began gathering after a hostage-taking drama unfolded. What was Chávez's take on the operation? No one knows. The normally loquacious president didn't say anything.

Why the sudden silence? Recent reports suggest health problems are to blame. In early June, the 56-year-old Chávez traveled to Havana, Cuba to undergo surgery on a pelvic abscess. Since then he's been mostly incommunicado, sparking rumors that his condition could be far more serious than initially suspected.

Venezuelan government officials, including the president's brother, Adán, who serves as governor of Barinas state, have repeatedly said that Chávez is "recovering satisfactorily." But on Friday night, Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro changed tack, setting off a flurry of speculation when he said "the battle that the president is waging for his health is everyone's battle." Maduro asked Venezuelans to pray for Chávez.

On Saturday, citing unnamed U.S. intelligence sources, the El Nuevo Herald of Miami reported that the Venezuelan leader was "critically but not gravely ill" with an undisclosed illness, which the newspaper reasoned could be prostate cancer.

Even before he left for Havana, Chávez appeared in public in Caracas leaning on a cane.
Two days after his operation on June 12, Chávez spoke by phone to a Telesur journalist, insisting his operation was successful. "It was lucky that the pelvic abscess did not lead to an infection. They have done biopsies and fortunately there is no sign of malignancy," he said.

Since then, however, the Venezuelan president – with the exception of a few non health-related Twitter messages – has said nothing.

On Monday, National Assembly speaker Fernando Soto denied that Chávez was suffering from cancer, and said the Venezuelan leader would be back in the country for July 5 independence day celebrations. He will then travel to Asunción, Paraguay for a Mercosur summit, said Soto.

But that too was left in doubt when Paraguayan Foreign Minister Jorge Lara Castro told journalists that Chávez would not be attending the regional meeting because he was still recovering.

Some newspaper columnists, such as Trino Márquez of the Venezuelan daily El Universal, have begun sounding off against the government for not being up front about Chavez's health.

The National Assembly, meanwhile, took the unprecedented step of giving Chávez powers to govern the nation from Havana. In effect, Chávez is still commander-in-chief. It is not clear what that means for the unfolding El Redeo hostage-taking drama, which entered its 12th day on Tuesday. El Rodeo is located in Guatire just outside Caracas. It is currently experiencing one of the longest prison revolts in Venezuelan history, say human rights organizations.

Family members are camped out waiting to hear from the love ones who are being held. At least 19 prisoners have died, according to the government. The inmates' families and prison gang leaders say the figure is higher.

Authorities reported that they have discovered a cache of cash, weapons and drugs inside one of the penitentiary's complexes. The warden and his deputy have been arrested.

And from Havana? Still dead air.

Martin Delfín
Worldcrunch

Photo - openDemocracy

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Society

Jehovah's Witnesses Translate The Bible In Indigenous Language — Is This Colonialism?

The Jehovah's Witnesses in Chile have launched a Bible version translated into the native Mapudungun language, evidently indifferent to the concerns of a nation striving to save its identity from the Western cultural juggernaut.

A Mapuche family awaits for Chilean President Gabriel Boric to arrive at the traditional Te Deum in the Cathedral of Santiago, on Chile's Independence Day.

Claudia Andrade

NEUQUÉN — The Bible can now be read in Mapuzugun, the language of the Mapuche, an ancestral nation living across Chile and Argentina. It took the Chilean branch of the Jehovah's Witnesses, a latter-day Protestant church often associated with door-to-door proselytizing and cold calling, three years to translate it into "21st-century Mapuzugun".

The church's Mapuche members in Chile welcomed the book when it was launched in Santiago last June, but some of their brethren see it rather as a cultural imposition. The Mapuche were historically a fighting nation, and fiercely resisted both the Spanish conquerors and subsequent waves of European settlers. They are still fighting for land rights in Chile.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ