Now in the thick of a prolonged battle against cancer, however, the leftist leader is drawing inspiration from a spiritual leader: Jesus Christ.
Mr. Chavez has been praying for divine intervention during increasingly infrequent appearances on television, holding up a crucifix while vowing to overcome his illness.
He says living with cancer has made him “more Christian,” talk that has spurred speculation that cancer might cut short his bid for re-election in October.
If Mr. Chavez survives cancer, political analysts say his increasing religiosity could pay election-year dividends in a country where Catholicism remains influential.
“Given that he cannot hide the illness, but he can hide its characteristics and danger, he’s decided to take as much advantage of it as he can, and one advantage is the symbolic and religious issue,” said Luis Vicente Leon, a Venezuelan pollster and analyst.
“He’ll present himself as the chosen one, the man who has been cured and healed by the Lord to continue governing the country.”
‘Like a pact with God’
In a later appearance in Cuba, Mr. Chavez held up the same crucifix that he said helped deliver him from one of his darkest moments, a 2002 coup that briefly deposed him. He returned to the presidency within two days.View Entire Story
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