Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hasn't been seen or heard from since Dec. 9, when the pugnacious populist announced in a televised address that he intended to undergo further treatment in Cuba for an undisclosed form of cancer. Since then, his administration has kept details of his condition under wraps, except to confirm that it is delicate and that he is recovering in a Havana hospital.
Now his vice president, who is serving as caretaker, has added this information: Thursday's scheduled inauguration will be postponed to allow Chavez more time to convalesce. Although the Venezuelan Constitution doesn't speak to this exigency, the country's Supreme Court (packed with Chavez loyalists) has agreed to the delay. Whether he will return in a month, six months or at all is uncertain.
Is the delay the right move or the wrong move? Will it enable the duly elected president to take office as he should or merely throw the country into a state of long-term paralysis? It's impossible to know because of the government's failure to provide a full account of the president's health and an honest appraisal of his prognosis. That's irresponsible and has served only to further stir political divisions in the deeply polarized country.