With cancer-stricken Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez clinging to life in a Havana hospital, an intense struggle for power is under way in Caracas, pitting Cuban-backed ideologues against narcogenerals. Venezuela’s inept democratic opposition has no strategy for defending its interests, while career U.S. diplomats are stumbling toward legitimizing an authoritarian narcostate without getting anything in return. The future of Venezuela is hanging in the balance.
Two factions have now emerged within Chavismo. The first is led by Nicolás Maduro, who served for six years as Venezuela’s foreign minister and heads a clique of ideologues loyal to Havana. In October, Chávez named Maduro as vice president and called upon his followers to support him in the snap elections that would take place if the president dies.
But even with the ailing president’s blessing, Maduro will face competition. Diosdado Cabello, a military veteran and long-time collaborator of Chávez’s who has fallen out of favor with the ... Read More