|EDITORIAL COMMENT: Chavez death a blow to the developing world|
|Wednesday, 06 March 2013 17:49|
THE tragic death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (58), who succumbed to cancer after a two-year battle with the disease on Tuesday, leaves a void that will be hard to fill and is a blow to the oppressed and downtrodden people of the world who have endured the yoke of imperialism for so long.
President Chavez, who led Venezuela for 14 years, was a champion of the poor and a true socialist to the hilt and his death has robbed the world of a colossal figure who spoke truth to power and stood up to the bullyboy tactics of rich and powerful countries.
Using his country’s vast oil and mineral wealth, the charismatic leader of the Latin American country managed to ease the suffering of his people through policies that brought subsidised food, education and free health clinics to long-neglected slums. He was among a few revolutionaries who challenged the dominance of imperialism in the world, exposed its weaknesses and was an inspiration to all progressive forces around the world.
Fearless, politically determined and ideologically steadfast, President Chavez’s pro-poor and pro-people policies were a constant thorn on the side of the United States, Britain and their allies who saw him as a threat to their hegemonic and imperialist machinations in Latin America.
President Chavez was leading a renaissance of people-centred governments sweeping across that region and his influence was proving uncomfortable to the West which sought underhand means such as sponsoring proxy opposition parties to seek an end to his rule through regime change.
Their quests to oust him however, were unsuccessful because of his close ties to his people and the spontaneous outpouring of grief across that country as news filtered through that he had died is ample evidence of his popular support.
In Tuesday’s televised address announcing President Chavez’s death, a tearful Vice-President Nicolas Maduro, who struggled to hold back tears, said the President had passed away “after battling a tough illness for nearly two years. We have received the toughest and tragic information that . . . Comandante President Hugo Chavez died today at 16:25 (20:55 GMT),” he added. Mr Maduro called on the nation to close ranks after its leader’s demise.
“Let there be no weakness, no violence. Let there be no hate. In our hearts there should only be one sentiment: Love.” He promised to maintain Mr Chavez’s “revolutionary, anti-imperialist and socialist legacy”.
The vice-president also spoke of a plot against Venezuela, saying he had no doubt that Mr Chavez’s cancer, first diagnosed in 2011, had been induced by foul play by Venezuela’s enemies — particularly the United States. He said a scientific commission could one day investigate whether Mr Chavez’s illness was brought about by what he called an enemy attack.
Two US diplomats were expelled from the country for spying on Venezuela’s military, he added.
President Chavez was a friend of Zimbabwe and President Mugabe whom he has described as leader who “continues, alongside his people, to confront the pretensions of new imperialists”.
“President Mugabe has turned into the target of attacks of various institutions of the world system and through the world press, he has been satanised, he is attacked . . . I want to give him our moral and political backing. The people recognise him for his anti-imperialist fights. He is a man that has spent all his life in the anti-colonialism fight. We have to align ourselves in his defence,” said President Chavez in 2009.
Indeed, we mourn the tragic death of a giant of the struggle against imperialism and neo-colonialism who leaves behind a rich legacy of economic emancipation of his people. Like President Mugabe who has suffered vilification and demonisation in the West because of his people-centred policies, President Chavez’s down-to-earth character endeared him to millions of Venezuelans and people of the developing world and alongside former Cuban President Fidel Castro, ranks among the great world leaders of the last century.
We pray that his legacy, dreams and aspirations of his country are upheld and carried forward by those he left behind so that the country continues on its path to prosperity.