Reactions to the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez were as mixed,polemical andoutsized as the leader was in life,with some saying his passing was a tragic loss and others calling it an opportunity for Venezuela to escape his long shadow.
Seen as a hero by some for his anti-US rhetoric and gifts of cut-rate oil,others considered him a bully.
A teary-eyed Bolivian President Evo Morales,one of Chavez’s closest allies and most loyal disciples,declared that “Chavez is more alive than ever.”
“Chavez will continue to be an inspiration for all peoples who fight for their liberation,” Morales said yesterday in a televised speech. “Chavez will always be
present in all the regions of the world and all social sectors. Hugo Chavez will always be with us,accompanying us.”
In Cuba,which has come to rely on Venezuela for billions of dollars in oil at preferential terms during Chavez’s presidency,some were worried that the loss of their No. 1 ally could have a negative ripple effect on the island.
“It’s a very tough blow … Now I wonder: What is to be of us?” said Maite Sierra,a 72-year-old Havana resident. “It’s troubling what could come now,first for Venezuela but also for Cuba,” said Sergio Duran,a Havana resident.
“Everything will depend on what happens in Venezuela,but in any case it will never be the same as with Chavez,even if Chavez’s party wins” in upcoming elections.
Relations with the United States were strained under Chavez.
President Barack Obama issued a statement saying that the United States reaffirms its support for the “Venezuelan people and its interest in developing a constructive relationship with the Venezuelan government.”
“As Venezuela begins a new chapter in its history,the United States remains committed to policies that promote democratic principles,the rule of law,and respect for human rights,” according to the statement.
Some of the Venezuelans living in Florida reacted with cautious optimism that there will be change in their homeland following his death.