Hugo Chavez

Chavez Gives Venezuela VP More Power

Can issue debts and seize assets, so nobody's safe while Chavez is recovering


President Hugo Chavez gave Vice President Nicolas Maduro the right to authorize debt sales and seize assets as Maduro described the Venezuelan leader's health as "difficult and complex" following an operation for cancer.

The resolution, which was published in the Official Gazette on Dec. 21 and distributed online today by local news website Noticias24, also gives the vice president the power to approve changes to Venezuela's annual budget and accept or reject proposals submitted by government ministers.

Chavez, who has not appeared in public since flying to Cuba 16 days ago for his fourth cancer operation, said on Dec. 8 that voters should elect Maduro to protect his legacy if he is unable to remain in office. The self-proclaimed socialist gave orders on economic policy by telephone from Havana that Venezuela's Cabinet was set to discuss starting yesterday, Maduro said on Dec. 24.