Chávez’s Absence Revealed Leadership Void in Venezuela

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is known for a ubiquitous and theatrical presence in his nation's media. So his sudden extended absence for the past month initially created something of a vacuum.

As the news broke that he was in a Cuban hospital under treatment for cancer, however, that vacuum was quickly filled by speculation over who might take charge of the nation's decade-old socialist revolution should Chávez turn out to be gravely ill.

According to Christopher Sabatini, senior director of policy at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas, the sudden lack of leadership that became evident in the 56-year-old president's absence "demonstrated that this revolution is -- no pun intended -- mortally tied to Chavez."

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