The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez after a long battle with cancer was announced yesterday by Vice President Nicolás Maduro, who has assumed the presidency as interim leader. Chávez had served as Venezuela’s president for 14 years.
The news has led to widespread speculation over the future of Venezuela and the region. An expert who spoke with Trend Lines addressed what Chávez’s long absence from Venezuela’s political scene and his death might mean for Venezuelan democracy.
“What happened over the past three months, which is to say that a democratically elected president literally disappeared from his country and was not heard from, that’s not how democratic countries behave,” said Eric Farnsworth, vice president at the Council of the Americas and Americas Society. “That, coupled with the constitutional interpretations that have been going on, calls into question the democratic legitimacy of the transition.”