Hugo Chávez's Death Mourned And Celebrated
Thousands gathered in the streets of Venezuela on Wednesday to mourn the death of the late President Hugo Chávez, who died at the age of 58 after a two-year battle with cancer.
While many held photos of Chávez, wore red T-shirts to commemorate him and marched alongside his coffin, others expressed their relief, reported USA Today:
"There is divine justice," said Debra Ramos, a 35-year-old shop assistant whose family farm had been expropriated by Chávez´s government. "That man made our lives horrible."
According to USA Today:
- The mood in the capital was quiet. Many businesses waiting to see whether to open or not. There had been fears that supporters of the president could go on a looting spree to vent their anger over Chávez´s death and alleged disrespect by the country's opposition.
SEE ALSO: Hugo Chávez Dies In Caracas
Chávez was also known for his anti-American, socialist beliefs during his 14 years as president as well as being a "self-proclaimed revolutionary" who inspired a left-wing revival across Latin America, according to the BBC.
While he was quick to get involved in other country's affairs, he neglected to address his own. USA Today reported that "he ignored rising crime in Venezuela as drug lords thrown out of other countries used Venezuela increasingly as a transit for shipments, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. In 2012, Venezuela, a country of about 30 million, had more than 20,000 murders. The United States, with 315 million people, had about 12,000 murders."
The Venezuelan government has announced seven days of mourning for the late president and has closed all schools and universities for the remainder of the week.
Latin American leaders also began arriving to pay tribute. Ecuador declared three days of official morning and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad– an ally of Chávez– described him as "a martyr."
President Obama released a statement regarding Chávez by focusing more on the Venezuelan people, according to FOX News:
- “At this challenging time of President Hugo Chávez’s passing, 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.”
For Venezuelans in the U.S., the news of Chávez's death was warmly welcomed.
The Associated Press reported:
- Cheering Venezuelans in the U.S. waved their country's flag and expressed hope that change would come to their homeland after the death of long-ruling populist President Hugo Chávez.
- "He's gone!" dozens in a largely anti-Chávez community chanted after word spread swiftly of the death of the 58-year-old leftist Tuesday. Many said they were rejoicing after nearly a decade and a half of socialist rule, heavily concentrated in Chávez's hands.
- "We are not celebrating death," Ana San Jorge, 37, said amid a jubilant crowd in a Miami suburb. "We are celebrating the opening of a new door, of hope and change."