Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez is in weak health, and as a consequence, he may not be able to make it back to Venezuela from Cuba—where he is recuperating from cancer surgery—in time for his inauguration on January 10. Naturally, this has prompted a lot of debate in Venezuela as to whether Chavez would legally be the president if he ends up missing his own inauguration.
Of course, one has to be careful regarding what one says in Venezuela, lest the authorities come a knockin’:
Venezuelan intelligence officers have raided the home of a Twitter user suspected of spreading destabilising rumours about the health of Hugo Chávez ahead of an inauguration that the ailing president looks increasingly unlikely to attend.
The alleged microblogger, Federico Medina Ravell is the cousin of a prominent opposition figure, prompting concerns that a long-simmering “information war” could be escalating as the government and its opponents try to fill the vacuum left by a leader who has not been seen or heard in public since he flew to Cuba for emergency cancer surgery a month ago.
The team of Sebin (Bolivarian National Intelligence Service) officers confiscated several computers from Medina’s home in Valencia on Sunday night, according to domestic newspapers.
Medina is the cousin of Alberto Federico Ravell, a well-known opposition journalist and co-founder of Globovision, a major news broadcaster and staunch critic of the Chávez government.
Medina, who was not at home, is accused of instigating terrorism through social networking sites. He is said to be behind the @LucioQuincioC Twitter account, which has claimed that Chávez will not return from Havana.
The account remains active and claims to be a collaboration between 20 bloggers in eight cities, mostly overseas. Other Twitter users are mocking Sebin by claiming to have spotted @LucioQuincioC elsewhere, including the peaks of the Andes and drinking cocoa in Calgary.
The raid underpins the heightened political sensitivity ahead of a scheduled swearing-in ceremony on Thursday that seems likely to be postponed amid uncertainty about both Chávez’s health and what happens when a president-elect cannot attend his inauguration.
Actually, the raid underpins the fact that Venezuela is a dictatorship, ruled by a totalitarian leader who is as cruel as he is sick. I remember well that during the Bush Administration, any number of port-side pundits celebrated Chavez since he said not-so-nice things about the President. Any enemy of his was a friend of theirs. Funny enough, one has yet to hear an apology from any one of these pundits for having enabled tyranny in Venezuela.