Key players within Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's inner circle:
_ Nicolas Maduro, vice president: One of most visible and resilient leaders of Chavez's United Socialist Party of Venezuela. Was bus driver and union leader years ago. Showed political finesse as National Assembly president and was foreign minister from 2006 until 2012, when he was appointed vice president. Chavez designated Maduro as his chosen successor before his final surgery.
_ Diosdado Cabello, former army officer who joined 1992 coup attempt led by Chavez: Was governor of Miranda state in 2004-08, when he lost re-election bid. Also served as vice president. Named National Assembly president in January 2012, Chavez said, due to support within his party.
_ Adan Chavez, president's older brother: Mild-mannered former university physics professor. Was Venezuela's ambassador to Cuba before president appointed him in 2006 as minister of the presidency. Was education minister in 2007-08, and then was elected governor of their home state of Barinas.
_ Rafael Ramirez, oil minister and president of state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA: Was mechanical engineer. Appointed energy minister in July 2002. Has played powerful role overseeing oil industry.
_ Elias Jaua, former vice president: Former university professor. Became Chavez's minister of the presidency and agriculture minister. Earned sociology degree from Central University of Venezuela before getting involved in politics.
_ Adm. Diego Molero, defense minister: Chavez promoted him to the rank of admiral in chief just before his last surgery.
_ Gen. Henry Rangel Silva, former defense minister: Joined Chavez in unsuccessful 1992 attempt to overthrow government. Was chief of country's civilian intelligence agency under Chavez, and in 2012 was appointed defense minister. Criticized by opposition for saying in 2010 interview that military wouldn't accept "hypothetical opposition government." U.S. officials accused Rangel of aiding Colombian rebels; Chavez dismissed accusation as politically motivated.
_ Maria Gabriela Chavez and Rosa Virginia Chavez, two daughters often at Chavez's side: Of his four children, Maria and Rosa took on biggest roles accompanying the divorced president at events, though they seldom spoke publicly. Maria took on important role in 2002, when in midst of a coup that briefly ousted Chavez she told Cuban television that her father hadn't resigned and was being held by soldiers. Eldest daughter Rosa married to Jorge Arreaza, government's science and technology minister. Both daughters were with Chavez frequently during his cancer treatment.