Is recent Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who was freely elected over and over to the U.S. House of Representatives and then elevated by his peers there to the speakership, anything like the right-hand man in a Latin American dictatorship? That's the comparison reporter William Neuman made on Tuesday, on possible successors to ailing Venezuelan dictator (merely called "president" in the Times) Hugo Chavez: "Chávez Forces Venezuela To Contemplate a Void ."
Another group is led by Diosdado Cabello, the president of the National Assembly and the No. 2 man in Mr. Chávez’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela. Mr. Cabello is a former soldier who took part in the failed 1992 coup led by Mr. Chávez, which thrust the future president onto the national stage. Mr. Cabello has close ties to the military, an all-important power base, and to the business community.
Mr. Cabello is sharp-tongued and fiery with a Machiavellian reputation, but not popular -- a kind of socialist Newt Gingrich. He is often referred to as part of what Mr. Chávez’s followers call the endogenous right, a more conservative wing within Mr. Chávez’s movement. Despite his red shirts and flame-throwing pronouncements, Mr. Cabello is widely associated with the country’s nouveau riche, the entrepreneurs who have grown fabulously rich by doing business with the socialist government, often by tapping into its vast oil wealth or securing government contracts.