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Venezuela

I must admit, I was shocked when the e-mail a colleague had written me flashed on my desktop yesterday. “Chávez is dead.”  It wasn’t like I wasn’t expecting it. But like the Chavista advisors that staged the bizarre, incoherent press conference shortly before they announced the Venezuelan President’s death, I was oddly taken aback.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has died, Venezuelan Vice President Nicolás Maduro announced this evening.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez remains in a Caracas military hospital, prompting continued speculation in Venezuela and abroad about eventual succession and concerns over political stability—as well as uncertainty about who is in charge.

After the Venezuelan government announced its intention to devalue its bolívar currency late last week, the 32-percent shift in its exchange rate—from 4.3 to 6.3 bolívars to the dollar—went into effect yesterday.

Leaders of the Primero Justicia (Justice First—PJ) opposition party in Venezuela vigorously rejected claims of corruption yesterday, after National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello accused three of its members of such on Tuesday and the Assembly summarily agreed to open an investigation to look into the charges.

Thousands of members of both Hugo Chávez’ Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV) and the opposition are marching in Caracas today in simultaneous demonstrations since January 23 marks the end of Venezuela’s 1945-1958 military dictatorship.

How long can the Venezuelan economy resist a major economic readjustment?

Top stories this week are likely to include: Cubans apply for foreign visas; Nicolás Maduro, Diosdado Cabello and Latin American leaders visit Chávez in Havana; Cristina Fernández de Kirchner travels to Asia; and Barack Obama begins his second presidential term.

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