Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Venezuelan President Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías Died

00 Hugo Chavez. cancer. death. 06.03.13


On Wednesday, AFP reported that Venezuelan Vice President Nicolás Maduro Moros {he started out as a bus-driver and trades-union activist: editor} announced that Venezuelan President Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías died because of cancer. On Tuesday, Venezuelan Vice President Nicolás Maduro Moros announced the death of President Hugo Chávez live on national television; he was in tears. Maduro, who’s considered Chávez’s successor, said on state TV, “We got the most terrible and tragic news… President Hugo Chávez died today (Tuesday) at 16.25 (12.55 PST. 15.55 EST. 20.55 UTC. 00.55 MSK Wednesday. 07.55 Wednesday AEST). Comandante, wherever you are, thank you, thank you a thousand times, from the people that you protected, that you loved, and whom you’ve never failed. We must come together as never before, we need very strong discipline, cooperation, and brotherhood … We’ll be the worthy sons of the giant man that he was, and Comandante Hugo Chávez will remain forever in our memory”. According to Maduro, the greatest victory achieved by Chávez was Venezuela’s unity and peace.

Biography of Hugo Chávez >>

Maduro conveyed condolences to Chávez’s parents, his brother, and his daughters. Maduro gave orders to the army and police to deploy forces to protect Venezuela’s peace and security. Maduro called on Venezuelans to come to the military hospital in Caracas, where Chávez underwent treatment in the last few days, in order to pay their last respects to their “Comandante”. He also appealed to Chávez’s opponents to be passive, to respect the populace’s grief.

Venezuela: “Farewell, Commandante!” >>

On Wednesday, Reuters reported that after the death of President Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan Army expressed support for Vice President Nicolás Maduro. Venezuelan Minister of Defence Diego Alfredo Molero Bellavia declared that the Venezuelan forces would defend the Venezuelan Constitution and remain united, saying to the media, “We’re united in order to protect the provisions of the Constitution and the wishes of our leader, Comandante Hugo Chavez”.

On Wednesday, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elías José Jaua Milano confirmed that Venezuela would hold an early presidential election after the death of Hugo Chávez, no later than one month after the date of death. During this time, Vice President Nicolás Maduro would serve as interim head of state.

On Wednesday, Reuters reported that the funeral of deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez shall be on Friday, referring to statement of Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua. Sr Jaua also announced that Venezuela would declare a seven-day mourning period in connection with the death of Chávez.

Since the beginning of December 2012, Chávez was in Cuba, where he underwent surgery for cancer. It was his fourth hospitalisation since mid-2011, when doctors diagnosed cancer. His last surgery led to complications… according to official reports from the Venezuelan government, Chávez contracted a pulmonary infection, which later led to respiratory failure. Suddenly, in mid-February, Chávez transferred from the Havana clinic to a military hospital in Caracas, where he continued treatment. Official sources claimed that Chávez ran the country directly from his hospital room.

Chávez was in power in Venezuela since February 1999. He won three consecutive presidential elections, the last time in October 2012, with a mandate to govern the country until 2019. This was made possible after he initiated a referendum in 2009, which abolished term limits on elective officials.

Chávez’s Life Path >>

UN General Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that the late President Chávez made great contributions to the development of his state. He told reporters who asked him for commentary on Chávez’s death, “As the President of Venezuela, he contributed to the development of his country”. Mr Ban acknowledged that he’d just heard the news, and promised to give a more-detailed statement later, but he expressed his condolences to the Chávez family, ant to the people and government of Venezuela.

According to a statement by US President Barack Obama on the death of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez, the USA seeks to develop constructive relations with Venezuela and intends to support democracy there, saying in a statement, “At this difficult time after the death of President Hugo Chávez, the USA confirms its support for the Venezuelan people and its interest in developing a constructive relationship with the Venezuelan government. Now, when Venezuela begins a new chapter in its history, the USA continues to remain committed to supporting democratic principles, respect for the law, and human rights”.

Experts polled by RIA-Novosti believe that if the political opponents of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez came to power in Caracas, relations with Washington would improve. In their opinion, Venezuela’s relationship with Russia would cool somewhat, as the two countries are far apart from each other. Fyodor Lukyanov, the chief editor of Russia in Global Affairs, said, “After Chávez’s death, Venezuela will embark on a very harsh political struggle, with an unpredictable outcome, because, of course, the authority of the current political order was largely due to Chávez’s personality and his ability to “fire up” the masses. Already, in the last election, which he won, he had a serious opponent from the rightwing opposition; of course, without Chávez, his party would have a very difficult time of it”.

With regard to possible changes in Venezuela’s relations with the USA, Lukyanov said that it’d depend on who won the election, noting, “Of course, if the rightwing elements win, then, the relationship would significantly improve, because the opposition is extremely negative about Chávez’s anti-American stance. However, even if Chávez’s supporters continue in power without him, the relationship would still be somewhat warmer, because much of the intensity of the American dislike was associated with Chávez’s personal relationship to America”. Lukyanov is certain that if Chávez’s opponents win, relations with Russia would move into neutral, observing, “Of course, the special relationship that developed under Chávez was directly linked to him. Even if his party wins, the relationship would return to the normal sort of relations between two very far-removed countries, but if the opposition wins, I think that the depth of brotherhood and friendship, of course, would decrease”.

In turn, Vladimir Sudarev, the deputy director of the Institute of Latin America, said it would depend on the result of the new presidential election, remarking, “If the elections are held in a month, Chávez’s bloc is in a good position to plan for it, then, of course, Vice President Maduro would became President. He’s even more anti-American, even more pro-Russian, and he’d pursue Chávez’s policy, although, of course, he doesn’t have Chávez’s charisma. However, the opposition could unify, as it rallied in the October 2012 election, when Capriles won almost six million votes, if they can delay the elections. Obviously, their rise to power would be a significant turn in international and in domestic Venezuelan politics”. In that case, Sudarev believed that relations with Russia wouldn’t be as close as under Chávez, but he noted, “I’m quite sure that this won’t mean that all business with Russian companies would immediately cease, and lead to the cancellation of contracts, because the contracts weren’t personally with Chávez, and the Venezuelan government would naturally think of its international reputation”.

6 March 2013




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