“If something should happen that I might be incapacitated in any way, I want Nicolás Maduro to finish my term, as the constitution dictates, but also — and it’s my firm opinion, as clear as a full moon, irrevocable, absolute, total — that if you’re obliged to hold new presidential elections, you should elect Nicolás Maduro as president,” he said, holding a copy of the constitution. “I’m asking this with all my heart.”
Two days later, Chávez boarded a plane to Havana and was never seen or heard from in public again. He was never even sworn in to his new presidential term, thanks to a ruling from the Venezuelan Supreme Court that said the new term was, essentially, a “continuation” of the old term. And though power was never officially transferred from Chávez, Maduro became the face of the government, the de facto president.
It was no surprise then that the news of Chávez’s death last Tuesday was delivered by a somber and clearly emotional Maduro, who also said there would be elections in 30 days.