Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
Twenty years ago, Hugo Chavez launched the most powerful movement in Venezuela's history with an improvised speech of just 90 seconds.
Bound for prison after a failed February 4, 1992, coup that was the culmination of years of conspiring within the military, the then-lieutenant colonel was allowed by his captors to address the nation to exhort fellow dissident soldiers to surrender, reports Reuters.
Wearing what would become his trademark costume of red beret and green military fatigues, Chavez took advantage of their mistake.
"Unfortunately, for now, the objectives we had planned were not obtained," said Chavez, electrifying Venezuelans with his hint of an unfulfilled radical agenda to eradicate poverty and corruption in the South American OPEC member.
Now, a battle with cancer has weakened him and is posing an existential threat to "Chavismo": the unruly movement of hardline leftists, conservative military men, political pragmatists and opportunistic entrepreneurs who came together to fulfil the words from 1992.
Nearly a year after Chavez announced his diagnosis, only his closest confidants and an inner circle of doctors know the exact nature of his condition, beyond its location "in the pelvic region."
Efforts by reporters, other doctors and even bondholders to predict whether the socialist stalwart will recover or die - or what cancer he has - still look like no more than educated guesswork.
That has turned the once theoretical debate over "Chavismo without Chavez" into a very real enigma with major political and economic repercussions.
The future of Chavismo is closely watched by oil companies outside Venezuela seeking improved access to the world's largest crude reserves, investors excited about a more free-market government, and regional allies such as Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua who benefit from Chavez's politically inspired largesse.
With no way of knowing for certain what ails "el comandante," all are asking variants of the same question: Will he survive cancer and, if not, can Chavismo continue without its founder and guiding light?
"It seems, unfortunately, the health of the president is the health of the revolutionary process," said Nicmer Evans, a pro-government analyst who has been warning the ruling Socialist Party that over-dependence on Chavez and personalization of the state make it vulnerable in any scenario without him.
If the president's foes have their way, Chavismo will end the same day his rule does. Supporters say he is recovering but insist Chavismo would continue in its current form even beyond him, just with different men leading Chavez's vision.
Chavismo could also simply metamorphose into a diluted and nostalgic philosophy like "Peronism" in Argentina.
Chavez, whose indefatigable optimism has helped him defeat challenges ranging from a military coup to an oil industry shutdown, has insisted his recovery is a fait accompli.
He has been increasingly prominent in the last two weeks, calling into state media and appearing in public several times, emphatically asserting that he is on course for another six-year term where he will deepen socialism in Venezuela.
Nearly two-thirds of the country agree he will make it to the October 7 presidential elections, according to polls that also show him handily beating opposition challenger Henrique Capriles to win a third term. Most surveys give him a double-digit lead.