Chavez ‘heir’ Maduro steps up leadership profile amid void


Chavez recovering from cancer surgery in Cuba, his designated heir Nicolas Maduro is spotlighting his own leadership in case of an early presidential vote, experts say.
“Today, Maduro is completely different from when he was just the foreign minister: he is the vice president but he also is the handpicked successor (of Chavez) and the de facto acting president,” said Luis Vicente Leon, who leads the Datanalisis pollster. Since Chavez headed to Cuba on December 10 for a fourth round of cancer surgery since he was diagnosed in 2011, Maduro has worked on honing his skills as a higher-profile leader in his own right in this OPEC member sitting atop the world’s largest proven oil reserves. Maduro has lashed out at the opposition, Chavez-style, on national television. And he has combatively pledged to fight to defend the socialist revolution that Chavez, a leftist ex-paratrooper, launched.