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Venezuela celebrates Chavez birthday

Hugo Chavez died nearly five months ago, but that hasn't stopped his hand-picked successor from holding week-long festivities honoring the late Venezuelan leader's birthday. The fiery former military officer who dominated the country's political scene from the moment he took office in 1999 to his death on March 5 would have turned 59 on Sunday. President Nicolas Maduro is marking the occasion with public dances and concerts. He even plans to go house-to-house in some neighborhoods bearing gifts and a message from the "supreme comandante."

Venezuela celebrates birthday of late leader Chavez

Hugo Chavez died five months ago, but that hasn't stopped his hand-picked successor from holding week-long festivities honoring the late Venezuelan leader's birthday. The fiery former military officer who dominated the country's political scene from the moment he took office in 1999 to his death in March this year, would have turned 59 on Sunday. President Nicolas Maduro is marking the occasion with public dances and concerts. He even plans to go house-to-house in some neighborhoods bearing gifts and a message from the "supreme comandante."

Venezuela to get first standing Chavez statue

Venezuela's first standing statue of the late leftist leader Hugo Chavez will be erected in a square in the western city of Merida, officials said Monday. Standing 7'3" tall (2.2 meters) and weighing in at 728 pounds (330 kilograms), the bronze depiction shows Chavez in military fatigues, beret, and presidential sash, his right hand on his chest and his left hand raised. Poet and sculptor Manuel Suescun, who was commissioned to make the piece, is completing a clay model and then a bronze casting, which takes about a month.

Venezuela's Chavez posthumously gets journalism award

One of the daughters of the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez received an unusual posthumous award for her father: the Simon Bolivar National Award for Journalism. The decision "was unanimous" to grant the award "with extraordinary mention to the comandante president Hugo Chavez," said the head of the awards jury, Milagros Perez. "The history and practice of journalism can only be divided in two moments -- before and after comandante Chavez," Perez said. A journalists' association cried foul, saying Chavez had made a habit of closing down media outlets.

Chavez relatives rise in power, keeping myth alive

Relatives of Hugo Chavez have taken powerful posts since he died three months ago, helping keep the late Venezuelan leader's mythical image alive, but analysts see little chance of another Chavez taking power. His son-in-law and former science minister, Jorge Arreaza, was appointed vice president by President Nicolas Maduro after Chavez's death. His oldest daughter, Rosa Virginia Chavez, is heading one of the firebrand leftist's popular social programs, the "Miracle Mission," which offers free eye surgery to the poor.

Leaked recording stirs political furor in Venezuela

By Brian Ellsworth CARACAS (Reuters) - A recording released by Venezuela's opposition purportedly revealing graft and conspiracy in the ruling Socialist Party has stirred a new political storm in the OPEC nation's already traumatic transition after the death of Hugo Chavez. Opposition leaders on Monday played an hourlong, expletive-laced diatribe in which a man identified as powerful state TV commentator Mario Silva lambastes party heavyweight Diosdado Cabello.

Venezuela opposition challenges post-Chavez vote

Venezuela's opposition on Thursday challenged the results of last month's presidential poll won by the late Hugo Chavez's successor, further muddying an already messy transition to life without the divisive leader. The center-right opposition in the oil-rich South American nation filed its formal challenge with the Supreme Court, even though it says the tribunal is loaded with pro-Chavez judges and certain to reject the challenge.

Venezuela's Maduro steps out of Chavez's shadow

A self-styled "apostle" of Hugo Chavez, Nicolas Maduro, who became Venezuela's president Friday, climbed from humble beginnings as a bus driver to the pinnacle of power in the shadow of his charismatic predecessor. "I am the first post-Chavez president in history," he proclaimed hours before taking the oath of office and donning a presidential sash that Chavez made his own for 14 years until his death of cancer on March 5 at age 58.

Venezuela's Maduro sworn in as president, calls for dialogue

Nicolas Maduro was sworn in as president of Venezuela on Friday, replacing the late Hugo Chavez with a call for dialogue with the opposition to build a better country "for everyone, by everyone." To cheers in the National Assembly, Maduro dedicated his oath of office to "the eternal memory of the supreme commander" Chavez, who dominated this oil-rich South American country for 14 years until his death of cancer in March.

Troop loyalty a challenge for Venezuela's Maduro

Venezuelan troops will parade past Nicolas Maduro after he is sworn into office Friday, but keeping their loyalty will be tricky for a leader lacking the charisma and savvy of his predecessor. Since Hugo Chavez's March 5 death, Maduro has staged frequent public events with top military leaders, showing off "civic-military unity" of the leftist regime he inherited from "el comandante." "We have a Chavista armed forces, which is to say patriotic, Bolivarian, revolutionary, anti-imperialist," Maduro said Tuesday. But cracks also have appeared on the facade of unity.
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