After the official ceremony in honor of Hugo Chávez on March 8, Nicolás Maduro was sworn in as acting president of the Venezuelan nation, just as President Chávez had stipulated last December when he informed the Venezuelan people that he had to undergo further surgery for cancer.
The inauguration was held in the National Assembly building. Then Maduro and his new cabinet went to the Military Academy, where Chávez was lying in state, to be sworn in again.
In taking the oath of office, Maduro pledged to strengthen and continue the revolution through the Plan for the Homeland that Chávez had designed, which set forth the goals of the elections held last Oct. 7.
Maduro said this plan was Chávez’s “last will and testament.”
Maduro stated the five points of the plan:
“1. Maintain and strengthen the independence gained in the 14 years of the popular and democratic Bolivarian revolution;
“2. Build our socialism, diverse, democratic and reflecting our America;
“3. Build Venezuela as a powerful country, under the aegis of the great power that Latin America will build in the coming years, and that we experience, standing here, represented by the diverse gathering of presidents who have come here;
“4. Build a balanced, Bolivarian world, a world without empires; and
“5. Contribute to the preservation of life on the planet and the salvation of the human race.”
During the inauguration ceremony, in his first act as head of state, Maduro proceded to appoint Science and Technology Minister Jorge Arreaza his vice president.
According to the Constitution, when it becomes definite that the president is unable to serve, elections must be held within 30 days. For that reason, President Maduro asked the National Electoral Council (CNE) to convene elections as soon as possible.
After an emergency meeting, the CNE announced on March 9 that it would call presidential elections on April 14.
As soon as the announcement was published, the opposition candidate of the right in the last presidential election, Henrique Capriles, called a press conference to criticize Maduro’s inauguration as interim president as unconstitutional.
Maduro, however, already has the endorsement of the people. As a former bus driver, he comes from the ranks of the working class, and was a fellow combatant in Chávez’s struggles. He was part of the Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement 200, founded by Chávez, which carried out a military uprising — the coup of Feb. 4, 1992. He therefore has his own militant credentials in the popular struggle.
On March 10, in a moving speech broadcasted by Telesur during the National Congress of the Communist Party of Venezuela, to which he was invited, Maduro said: “I am a man of the street.” This means his aspirations are not to be bourgeois but only a servant of the people.
It is important to stress that Maduro appears to aspire to achieve unity of the Venezuelan revolutionary forces. In his speech he mentioned that he had invited the leadership of the CPV to be part of the political and military leadership of the revolution that was installed last March 5 in the Miraflores Palace.
The people have already accepted Maduro as their next president. Countless slogans raised by the people testify to that: “We’ll be in the streets to defend Maduro.” “We are with Maduro.” “Be strong Maduro, the people are with you.” “Chávez said it, said it strong, that the president will be Maduro.” “With Chávez and Maduro, the people are safe.” “The 10 million will be for Maduro.”