Hugo Chavez’s return to Venezuela after a 10-week absence while undergoing cancer treatment in Cuba may may only service to contribute to pressure that an election be called to choose his successor. As a result of the devaluation ordered by Chavez's stand-in, Venezuelans' real income may decline by 20% and inflation could rise 30% this year -- economic fallout that will especially hurt the poor, since they spend a higher portion of their income on imported food.
And Chavez's health may not necessarily be on a positive trend-- Hugo arrived in the middle of the night and was immediately admitted to a military hospital in the poor San Martin barrio in west Caracas. There were no photos of his arrival-- insiders say that the manner of his arrival (as opposed to a celebratory welcome at the airport) was especially revealing.
Chavez's return, despite the appearance that he has not fully recovered from surgery, may have been a response to increasing pressure from opposition groups. On Monday, students spent a fifth day at the Cuban Embassy in Caracas in protests originally called over Chavez’s absence.