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Chavez Gives Venezuela Economic Orders in Christmas Eve Call

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave orders on economic policy by telephone from Havana that will be discussed in meetings from today, the country’s vice president said.

Chavez and Vice President Nicolas Maduro talked for about 20 minutes, Maduro told state television at around 11 p.m. local time on Dec. 24. Venezuala’s leader is in good spirits and is walking, said Maduro.

“Chavez spent the day with his family,” Maduro said. “He talked for fifteen minutes about economic instructions.”

Chavez, 58, is in Cuba recovering from a fourth surgery for an undisclosed cancer in 18 months. Maduro did not provide additional information on the economic measures Chavez talked about or his current state of health.

Chavez could be sworn in before the Supreme Court if his absence for medical reasons extends past the Jan. 10 inauguration date, Maduro said earlier yesterday.

Chavez’s health is improving and the constitution will be applied Jan. 10 in one way or another, Maduro said on state television after a Christmas Eve mass held in Caracas to pray for Chavez’s health. Maduro didn’t say whether Chavez could be sworn in from Cuba, where he is resting after surgery Dec. 11 that included complications such as bleeding and a respiratory infection.

“If his permission needs to be extended past Jan. 10, the constitution goes into action and, surely, he’d have to be sworn in before the Supreme Court,” Maduro said. “In any case, there will be continuity because the people on Oct. 7 re-elected a president and ratified a path.”

Inauguration Date

National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello said on Dec. 18 that the inauguration date was not set in stone. Under Venezuelan law, if Chavez, steps down before Jan. 10, Maduro would see out the rest of the current term and then hand over power to Cabello, who must call for an election within 30 days. If Chavez is unable to start his new term Jan. 10, but doesn’t step down, the National Assembly president must determine if the absence is temporary or absolute.

Venezuela will only hold new elections if Chavez said he was unable to take office and voluntarily stepped down, Cabello said Dec. 22.

Chavez, who has been told by doctors to rest, is experiencing a “slight improvement” in his condition, Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said yesterday. The Venezuelan leader has been communicating with family members, analyzing the results of regional elections held Dec. 16 and keeping up with events in the South American country, Villegas said.

Chavez Improvement

“The patient is experiencing a slight improvement in his condition with a progressive tendency,” Villegas said in a national address broadcast on radio and television.

The leader of Venezuela’s opposition, Miranda state Governor Henrique Capriles Radonski, said yesterday that Chavez can remain the president of the Latin American nation, at least temporarily, even if he isn’t sworn in for a new term Jan. 10.

“If the president can’t present himself Jan. 10 before the National Assembly to take office as president-elect, the constitution has the answers,” Radonski, whom Chavez defeated in the October presidential elections, said on the Globovision network. “Initially, the temporary absence applies.”

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