CARACAS, Venezuela — Vice President Nicolas Maduro is taking over leadership of Hugo Chavez's political movement after the socialist leader died Tuesday at age 58 following a nearly two-year bout with cancer. Maduro now faces the daunting task of rallying support in a deeply divided country while maintaining unity within his party's ranks.
Maduro decidedly lacks the vibrant personality that made Chavez a one-man political phenomenon in Venezuela, but he has the advantage of being Chavez's hand-picked successor.
The mustachioed 50-year-old former bus driver won Chavez's trust as a loyal spokesman who echoed the president's stances. How Maduro will lead in Chavez's absence remains to be seen, although he's widely known as both a skilled negotiator and a leader who views upholding his mentor's legacy as his personal crusade and responsibility.
One of the biggest tasks Maduro will likely face is attempting to hold together a diverse movement that includes radical leftists, moderates and many current and former military officers.
Analysts have speculated that differences might emerge between factions led by Maduro and Diosdado Cabello, the influential National Assembly president who is thought to wield power within the military. But thus far both men have denied such divisions and vowed to remain united.
After Chavez's Dec. 11 cancer surgery, Maduro stepped up his public appearances to fill the void, providing regular updates on the president's condition, calling for unity among allies and lambasting the opposition.
Chavez's deteriorating health led him on Dec. 8 to announce Maduro as his chosen successor. He said that if his illness prevented him from being sworn in on Jan. 10, government supporters should rally around Maduro and elect him president.
- Many Mormon missionaries who return home...
- 50 things you might not know about 15 of your...
- Amish school shooter's kin: Horror, then healing
- Central African Republic mobs launch ethnic...
- Report: German president boycotting Sochi...
- Purge sends chilling message to North Korea's...
- The American Dream is still alive for 20...
- Judge orders Colo. cake-maker to serve gay...
- Judge orders Colo. cake-maker to serve... 111
- Many Mormon missionaries who return... 111
- Utahns react to death of Nelson Mandela 27
- Space and religion: How believers view... 21
- Obama administration will allow green... 17
- Expelling Santa from school? Holiday... 16
- 'Sound of Music' alive for 18.5 million... 13
- TV Review: Broadway wins in live 'Sound... 12