He acknowledged "risks in a process like this." He said "if anything happens that prevents him from performing his duties," he prefers Vice President Nicolas Maduro replacing him. He urged Venezuelans to elect him.
He served six years as foreign minister. He established important world contacts. He strongly supports Bolivarianism. Like Chavez, he fiercely criticizes US imperialism and neoliberal harshness.
Cuban doctors urged Chavez to undergo emergency surgery immediately. He delayed until he could entrust Maduro to act on his behalf until he returns. He also wanted to name him heir apparent.
Maduro wept as he vowed Venezuela would remain faithful to Chavez and Bolivarianism. "We are going to accompany President Chavez in prayer and in action," he said. "We've been with him in good" and bad times.
Chavez added that it's vital to "ensure the progress of the revolution, the victorious march of the revolution, building the new country, building the Venezuelan road to socialism, with broad participation and freedoms."
Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez read an oil workers statement. They vowed unbending Chavez loyalty and support. They promised the same for Maduro.
He's a former union leader, legislator, National Assembly Speaker, and foreign minister. Some call him Chavez's most capable administrator and politician. He may be Venezuela's next president.
Political analyst Vladimir Villegas knew him since adolescence. He said his leadership background prepared him for what he may face now.