58-year-old Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela, died on March 5th 2013 after losing a two-year batter with cancer. He ruled Venezuela from 1999 until his death. His death marked the end of Latin America's most remarkable populist rule. The firebrand socialist and open critic of the United States is mourned by his people deeply.
His role is now being fulfilled by his Vice President Nicolas Maduro, the man he tapped to succeed him.
Maduro, a 50-year-old former bus driver and union leader was born on 23rd November 1962 and served as Vice President since October 2012, serving primarily under President Hugo Chávez.
On 8 December 2012, in an address to the nation, President Hugo Chávez announced that his cancer had returned and that he would be returning to Cuba for emergency surgery and further medical treatment. Chavez said that should his condition worsen and a new presidential election need to be called to replace him, Venezuelans should vote for Maduro to succeed him.
Madurowill be Venezuela's caretaker leader until the election.
Nicolas Maduro rose to the job of vice president precisely because he was a firm Chavez loyalist and he has so far given no hints that he might make significant policy changes if he is elected.
If Maduro wins the election, he is expected to broadly continue the radical policies of the Chavez era, including nationalizations, tight state control of the economy and financial support for allies such as communist-led Cuba.
In 1992, when Chavez was jailed for a failed coup that made him famous, Maduro took to the streets to demand his release and visited him in prison. His wife Cilia Flores, led the legal team that helped get Chavez freed within two years, and she is also a former leader of the National Assembly.
Maduro is married to Cilia Flores, a prominent lawyer within the Fifth Republic Movement (MVR) who replaced Maduro as Speaker of Assembly in August 2006 when he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Jennifer McCoy, a political science professor at Georgia State University, described Maduro as an easygoing man who has shown a willingness to talk with government opponents.
He was always willing “to discuss the issues, and I think that's really important going forward for Venezuela,”she said.
It is time now to see how Maduro performs without the shadow of his hero Chavez.