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A Metastasizing Problem

If Hugo Chávez goes, what comes after?

Dec 24, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 15 • By VANESSA NEUMANN
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However, the MUD has no other viable presidential candidate and no money with which to run another campaign. The last one cost them $60 million, and while there are wealthy and powerful Venezuelans who will always give the opposition money, the party would be hardpressed to raise that sum so quickly. Perhaps it would be wiser to run a second-tier candidate for president, wait for the chavistas to fracture and fight each other, and for the economy to unravel further, and then run a winning candidate next time out.  

As it stands now, the opposition’s worst-case scenario is for Capriles to lose the gubernatorial race and then for Chávez to fail to take office in January. The ideal scenario is for Capriles to become governor, and for Chávez to be sworn in and rule long enough to make these necessary-yet-unpopular policy decisions that will effectively discredit the entire chavista project. With the prospect of riding a wave of discontent all the way to the Miraflores presidential palace after Chávez, the mantra of the opposition is a twist on the Augustinian plea: “Lord, give us relief from Chávez, but not yet.”

Vanessa Neumann is a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. 

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