Antonio Vazquez Alba, who calls himself Mexico's "grand warlock," said the cards tell him that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will begin his next term in office on Jan. 10 but will die three months later.

"Chavez has been kept alive for the last six months by his vanity, by his thirst for power, because he doesn't want to lose that position...he will take power again though we can see he's finished, but after that, unfortunately, it won't be three months before he dies," the fortune teller said he has seen in the cards.

Vazquez Alba normally announces his predictions at the beginning of the year. He usually mixes them with obvious political prospects and with auguries that echo opinion polls.

During his traditional New Year's press conference, "the grand master," as his followers call him, also said that, when the Venezuelan president dies, "a crisis will descend on Venezuela...many changes and a total revolution."

That situation, he said, will principally affect, "both directly and indirectly," Nicaragua, Ecuador, Bolivia and Argentina.

Chavez, who was operated in Cuba on Dec. 11 for a cancer that was first diagnosed in June 2011 and for which he has undergone surgery on another three occasions, is experiencing respiratory deficiency caused by a "severe" lung infection, Venezuelan officials said this week.

The president won re-election in October but is hospitalized in Cuba and it remains unclear if he will be able to return to Venezuela in time to be inaugurated for another term on Jan. 10.

EFE