Chavez keeps his friends close

Hugo Chavez © ITAR-TASS/Dmitry Astakhov

By Antonio Sampaio, Research Assistant, Survival and the Armed Conflict Database

All sorts of rumours have been circulating in Venezuela about the health of Hugo Chavez, ahead of the president’s anticipated return to Caracas and the campaign trail this weekend. After 13 years in power, Chavez is fighting hard not only against cancer – he is coming back home after a second operation in Cuba – but also against a resurgent opposition. His adversaries made important strides in last year’s parliamentary elections. Now, after years of infighting, the opposition has united around one candidate, the youthful Henrique Capriles. The moderate, centre-left Capriles may not win the presidential election scheduled for October, but it is expected to be the tightest contest in Venezuela for years.

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