Analysis

Venezuela: 39-year-old Challenger Could Reverse Decline
Venezuelan opposition leaders join Henrique Capriles Radonski (in green) on the stage in Caracas after Capriles won the primary elections on February 12. Capriles will challenge President Hugo Chavez for the presidency in the general election in October. (LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images)
February 28, 2012
| Security
| The Americas
Summary
The best thing that could happen to Venezuela, says a prominent Latin America expert, is for the democratic challenger to win the presidential election in October and for the “Chavenistas” who hold power to give it up to a civilian government.
It could happen, says Otto Reich, who served as ambassador to Venezuela under former President Ronald Reagan and has helped shape U.S. policy in Latin America over the last three decades. But a lot of other scenarios also loom on the horizon as President Hugo Chavez undergoes surgery in Cuba to remove a cancerous tumor — among them, civil war, with the rank-and-file in the military refusing to obey the orders of the “drug generals,” and the generals refusing to go quietly into the night.

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