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Venezuelan VP active in Chavez's absence

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 18, 2013 at 6:43 pm •  Published: January 18, 2013
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Opposition leaders have said the government violated the constitution by indefinitely postponing Chavez's swearing-in past Jan. 10, a stance that has been dismissed in a ruling by the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, a president known for speaking and singing on television for hours at a time has not uttered a word or appeared on television since Dec. 10. Even his popular and normally busy Twitter account has gone dark since early November.

Maduro and other government leaders don't enjoy anywhere near the level of public adoration that Chavez does, but the president's followers have still embraced him as his anointed stand-ins.

Critics note that while many Venezuelans remain on edge awaiting news of Chavez's condition, the government faces serious challenges ahead.

The opposition newspaper Tal Cual headlined an editorial by journalist Fernando Rodriguez on Monday saying Venezuela is now a "headless country."

"Who's in charge in this country?" Rodriguez asked. He noted that Venezuela is being battered by 20 percent inflation, shortages of some types of food and that hundreds were murdered last month during the holidays.

Rodriguez wrote that as he sees it, "The country is standing still."

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Associated Press writer Ian James contributed to this report.