With Chavez stricken, elections become crucial - Article Photos 5/8

Venezuela's Vice President Nicolas Maduro, center right, talks with members of Venezuela's Islamic community after their meeting in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. The most influential allies of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez are projecting an image of unity while he recovers from cancer surgery in Cuba. Maduro was tapped by the 58-year-old president over the weekend as his chosen political heir, considered to be a member of radical left wing of Chavez's movement that is closely aligned with Cuba's communist government. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)