Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez dies of cancer at 58; ‘Chavistas’ mourn dictator

Guy Taylor
The Washington Times

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who led a socialist revolution in the heart of Latin America and garnered global notoriety for allying with Iran and railing angrily and often against the United States, died Tuesday after losing his battle against cancer. He was 58.

Supporters of Mr. Chavez accused his ‘imperialist enemies’ with infecting the weakened president with a severe respiratory infection months after he traveled to Cuba for a cancer operation. He underwent his first cancer surgery in Cuba in June 2011, and his last operation was in December after he won reelection to a third term.

Reviled as a dictator by American conservatives, free-market advocates and pro-democracy activists around the world, Mr. Chavez was regarded widely by scholars as one the most polarizing political figures the Western Hemisphere has seen in a generation.

“For more than a decade, the Venezuelan people have suffered under the authoritarian rule of Hugo Chavez. He cracked down on freedom of the press and arrested judges and opposition leaders who didn’t agree with him,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, Florida Republican.

“Additionally, he used petro dollars stolen from the Venezuelan people to extend his influence and fund the sinister agendas of cruel dictators like [Cuban leader Fidel] Castro, [Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and [Syria’s President Bashar] Assad.”…

…Henrique Capriles Radonski, who lost to Mr. Chávez in a presidential election in October, is expected to again mobilize opposition in the divided nation and provide a formidable challenge for the presidency to Mr. Chavez’s party…

…Mr. Chavez’s oil-fueled socialism won him a quiet fan base among many liberals in the United States. He worked with Joseph Kennedy, the eldest son of Robert F. Kennedy, on a program funded by Venezuela’s state-controlled oil monopoly to dole out free heating fuel to poor and elderly Americans.

Former President Jimmy Carter, who observed elections in Venezuela, on Tuesday praised Mr. Chavez for his work on behalf of his people and extended condolences to Mr. Chavez’s family.

“We came to know a man who expressed a vision to bring profound changes to his country to benefit especially those people who had felt neglected and marginalized. Although we have not agreed with all of the methods followed by his government, we have never doubted Hugo Chávez’s commitment to improving the lives of millions of his fellow countrymen,” Mr. Carter said in a statement.

However, Mr. Chavez’s Castro-like speeches condemning “U.S. imperialism” garnered the most attention in the English-language media, and conservatives regarded him as a virulently anti-American dictator.

“Hugo Chavez was a tyrant who forced the people of Venezuela to live in fear. His death dents the alliance of anti-U.S. leftist leaders in South America. Good riddance to this dictator.” said Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House committee on foreign affairs…

The entire article is at The Washington Times.

RelatedCarter statement lauds Chavez

Video: Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez Has Died

Update: NY Congressman Praises Hugo Chavez

It only took minutes for the extreme liberal and socialist-leaning wing of the Democrat party to come out and express their condolences to  Venezuelan Dictator Hugo Chavez, who died earlier today. New York’s Democrat Congressman Jose Serrano stated on Twitter that Chavez was a “leader that understood the needs of the poor.” He ended his tweet with “R.I.P., Mr. President.” ….

Update 2: Venezuela Expels US Embassy Staff, Accused of Causing Chavez Cancer

Dennis Miller reacts:

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Update 3: Sean Penn on Hugo Chavez’s Death: ‘I Lost a Friend’

From Babalú:


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Update 4: Wikipedia has a comprehensive listing for Chavez. Included in the biographical material is that Chavez was a Catholic who embraced liberation theology.

Also, at The Huffington Post, Venezuelans In Miami Hopeful After Hugo Chavez’s Death [videos and photos]

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