On Saturday, Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro fired back at comments made by U.S. President Barack Obama calling the ailing Hugo Chavez "authoritarian".
The Vice President made these comments at an event marking the eighth anniversary of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas, the leftist trade bloc that was created as a response to the U.S sponsored and now defunct Free Trade Area of the Americas.
The event was organized immediately after Chavez announced that he would undergo difficult cancer surgery in Cuba. Bolivian president and key Chavez ally Evo Morales was a special guest and gave words of encouragement about Chavez’s condition.
Vice President Maduro also spoke about Sunday’s important regional elections in which all of Venezuela’s 23 state governorships are being contested.
Maduro a former bus driver and foreign minister is Hugo Chavez’s handpicked successor, a title growing in stature everyday due to speculation that Chavez’s condition will force the Venezuelan leader to step down before the start of his fourth term.
Without the charismatic Chavez, some wonder whether the president’s 13-year populist leftist movement will to survive under the leadership of Maduro.
This Sunday’s regional election will also mark an important milestone; the first time Hugo Chavez will not be actively participating in a Venezuelan election in 14 years. Polls are expected to close today at 6pm.