“Chavismo is very much going to continue without Chavez, but it will never be the same,” Cynthia Arnson, Latin America program director for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said of the late leader’s signature development agenda.

With the majority of Venezuelans still far below the regional poverty line, there will be no retrenching of the costly missions, Arnson said.

She predicted a relatively easy victory for Maduro in the presidential vote that must be held within 30 days of Chavez’s death, according to the constitution. But “cracks and divisions will become more apparent in the medium term” as Chavez lieutenants stumble in attempts to fill his shoes.

“Chavez had a singular ability to keep his movement unified, to keep direct contact with his massive base. No leader, not Maduro or anyone else, has that quality,”  Arnson said.


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