World News Brief, Thursday March 7

Venezuela's future in question after Chavez's death; North Korea threatens to end cease-fire; Malaysian forces kill Filipino militants; electronic polling system holds up vote in Kenya; rebel bombings cut power in Colombia; and more

Top of the Agenda: Hugo Chávez's Death Raises Questions for Venezuela's Future

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, a self-proclaimed Bolivarian revolutionary who ruled the country for fourteen years and was reelected for a fourth term in October, died on Tuesday (BBC) at the age of fifty-eight after a two-year battle with cancer. His death raises myriad questions for the political future of the country; while Vice President Nicolás Maduro, Chávez's hand-picked successor, will take over as interim president (MercoPress), elections will be organized in the next thirty days. Maduro will likely face opposition from Henrique Capriles, the centrist governor of Miranda state, who lost against Chávez in the latest election.


"The country's vice president and Chávez's designated successor, Nicolás Maduro, is in the strongest position, but Diosdado Cabello, the president of the Venezuelan National Assembly and a Chavista camp, as does Rafael Ramírez, president of the state-owned petroleum company. Meanwhile, the opposition remains weak and lacks a coherent, unified platform," writes Michael Shifter for Foreign Affairs.

"What will [Chávez's supporters] see? A Socialist party that remains the strongest political force in the country. But also inefficiency, mismanagement and a government that lacks both the surplus petro-dollars and the charisma of its progenitor that once sustained it. That is when the final reckoning of chavismo may come," writes John Paul Rathbone for the Financial Times.

"Perhaps only the Cuban leadership can preserve unity among the chavistas. The stakes are high. Cuba's president, Raúl Castro, knows that the loss of Venezuelan oil would plunge his country's economy deeper into penury. A majority of Venezuelans may eventually come to see that Mr Chávez squandered an extraordinary opportunity for his country, to use an unprecedented oil boom to equip it with world-class infrastructure and to provide the best education and health services money can buy," writes The Economist.



North Korea Threatens to End Cease-Fire

Pyongyang threatened to abandon the cease-fire (Yonhap) with South Korea on Tuesday in protest of the annual military exercises the South is conducting with the United States, as well as international efforts to impose new sanctions on the North in the wake of its third nuclear test.

MALAYSIA: An air and ground assault by Malaysian forces killed at least thirteen (NYT) of the nearly 200 Filipino militants seeking to reclaim part of Borneo Island.


Vote in Kenya held up by electronic polling system

Rebel bombings cut power in Colombia

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