Tuesday, 05 March 2013 09:00
By caribarena news
The leader of Venezuela’s “Bolivarian Revolution has lost his two-year battle with cancer. On Tuesday Vice President Nicolas Maduro announced that President Hugo Chavez had died at age 58.
The news that their beloved leader had passed struck anxious “Chavistas” like a thunderclap. Although fears had persisted for weeks that President Chavez’ health condition was worse than state authorities were willing to admit, loyal supporters of his Socialist Party by and large chose to extract the most favourable interpretation from the equivocal statements coming from government sources.
Opposition groups had long been demanding that the government release a clear and definitive assessment of the president’s health condition, but this has not been forthcoming before Tuesday, when the Vice President announced that the “Comandante” had expired.
Characteristically for Maduro and for the Chavez regime the Vice President charged that “foreign elements”, presumably the United States, had engineered the Venezuelan President’s death through poison. The passing of the Comandante, Maduro said, was the result of an attack by Venezuela’s enemies.
Prior to Maduro’s statement two US diplomats were expelled from the country for alleged espionage activities directed against Venezuela’s armed forces.
Prior also to the president’s death, Maduro had advised the nation that their leader was “fighting for his life”.
Information emerged that Mr Chavez had contracted another respiratory infection and was on ventilation support for breathing, while continuing to receive chemotherapy. A somber Vice President later reported to the nation that El Comandante had succumbed to his ailments at 4:25 pm local time.
The death of Hugo Chavez has ended one prolonged period of uncertainty for Venezuela and opened yet another. The President’s passing has ended doubts about his ability to be inaugurated and to continue in office.
Now that Chavez has failed to achieve a fit state to undergo inauguration his election in October 2012 is null and void. A fresh presidential election must constitutionally be held within 30 days. Accordingly, the nation’s state of uncertainty will now center around the possible outcome of that voting process.
Caribbean leaders whose countries have signed on to the Petro-Caribe Initiative, have been given assurances by Venezuelan authorities that the pro-Caribbean stance adopted by Hugo Chavez will continue. This of course depends on Nicolas Maduro being able to lead Chavez’ Socialist Party to victory in the upcoming presidential poll.
The Petro-Caribe Initiative provides concessionary terms for oil to thirteen Caribbean countries; including Antigua & Barbuda who struggle with the elevated cost of fuel.
The world now waits to see how Venezuela’s democratic process weathers the coming storm. Much will depend on how the country’s institutions deal with an environment free of the domineering presence of El Comandante.
Prime Minister the Hon. W. Baldwin Spencer has expressed shock and sadness at the passing of President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez.
In a telephone conversation with the Venezuelan Ambassador to Antigua and Barbuda, Carlos Perez Silva, Prime Minister Spencer noted:
“The death of President Hugo Chavez is a huge blow to Latin America and the Caribbean. He was a true champion of not only the working class people of Venezuela but of the entire Caribbean. Being in his presence and interacting with him was always uplifting and was a positive symbol of great hope for Latin America and the Caribbean. He was a man of significant intellectual insight which he displayed in political practice. His contributions to the development of Antigua and Barbuda and the Caribbean in general will always be remembered. The Caribbean owes a debt of gratitude to Venezuela for sharing with us a son of the soil whose imposing physical presence was equaled only by his exceptional intellect and compassion.”