News / Americas

World Leaders Express Sorrow Over Chavez Death

World Reacts to Death of Venezuelan Presidenti
March 06, 2013 8:21 PM
Venezuela is mourning its President, Hugo Chavez, who died yesterday Tuesday after a struggle with cancer. World leaders are sending condolences. And as VOA’s Brian Padden reports both supporters and critics are voicing concern about what the loss of the populist and autocratic leader will mean to this oil-rich South American country and the world.
VOA News
The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has inspired many tributes and expressions of hope for the Venezuelan people.

Some of the late president's closest allies -- Bolivian President Evo Morales, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez and Uruguayan President Jose Mujica -- arrived in Venezuela Wednesday, several days ahead of the leftist leader's state funeral set for Friday.

After learning of Chavez's death, a tearful President Morales had said that the late president would continue to be an inspiration for people who fight for their liberation.

Meanwhile at the United Nations headquarters in New York, the U.N. Security Council held a moment of silence to honor Chavez's memory.  Earlier, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon had offered his condolences to the Venezuelan people.

Related - Venezuelan President Chavez Dead at 58

Another close ally of the Chavez government, Cuba, is observing two days of mourning with flags flown at half-staff.  A statement from the government said the Cuban people considered him one of their "most outstanding sons."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also offered his condolences and said he may attend Friday's funeral.  China called Chavez "a great leader and great friend of the Chinese people."

The U.S. Obama administration, often the target of Chavez's criticism, was cautious in its response, releasing a statement expressing support for the Venezuelan people and interest in "developing a constructive relationship with the Venezuelan government."

In the largely Venezuelan community of Doral in the Florida city of Miami, many people who left Venezuela while Chavez was in power took to the streets to celebrate his passing. Some expressed hope that the problems they left behind -- crime, corruption, and a poor economy -- would finally begin to improve.

  • Hugo Chavez with his daughters, Maria Gabriela, left, and Rosa Virginia at an unknown location in Havana, Cuba, February 14, 2013.
  • Hugo Chavez speaks at the Plaza Caracas, Feburary 4, 1998 during celebrations for the anniverary of the 1992 Venezuelan coup.
  • Chavez waves to the crowd after announcing his candidacy for the presidency in downtown Caracas Plaza, Venezuela, July 29, 1997.
  • President Barack Obama shakes hands with Chavez before the opening session of the 5th Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, April 17, 2009. 
  • Cuba's Fidel Castro, right, and Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez embrace in La Orchila island, Venezuela, December 22, 2003.
  • This picture released by Cuba's state newspaper Granma shows Cuba's President Raul Castro meeting Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez at the Jose Marti International airport in Havana, Cuba, December 10, 2012.
  • Hugo Chavez holds a microphone under pouring rain during his closing campaign rally in Caracas, October 4, 2012.
  • Chavez attends a special session at the National Assembly commemorating the country's Independence Day, in Caracas, Venezuela, July 5, 2012.
  • Hugo Chavez, center, Aristobulo Izturi, left, and Pablo Medina appear at a Caracas rally Friday, April 24, 1998.
  • Chavez runs the bases after hiting a double during an exhibition softball game in Caracas, February 11, 2010.
  • Supporters of Chavez pray for the ailing president at the military hospital's chapel in Caracas, March 5, 2013.
  • A woman carries an image of Chavez before a mass in support of him in Havana, Cuba, December 13, 2012.
  • Chavez, left, speaks with an electoral worker at a polling station before casting his ballot for the presidential election in Caracas, October 7, 2012.
  • Chavez greets supporters during his caravan from Miraflores presidential palace to the airport in Caracas, February 24, 2012.
  • Chavez shares a moment with his daughter Rosa as he attends a concert in his honor at the Teresa Carreno theater in Caracas, February 23, 2012.

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Comment Sorting
by: Walter Lippmann from: Los Angeles, California
March 06, 2013 1:16 PM
The President of the United States expressed no sorrow over the death of President Chavez. Presumably he felt nothing for Chavez and gratitude at his passing.

Former President Jimmy Carter did express appropriate and sincere condolences. Here they are:

March 5, 2013

Statement From Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter
on the Death of Hugo Chavez

Rosalynn and I extend our condolences to the family of Hugo Chávez Frías. We met Hugo Chávez when he was campaigning for president in 1998 and The Carter Center was invited to observe elections for the first time in Venezuela. We returned often, for the 2000 elections, and then to facilitate dialogue during the political conflict of 2002-2004. 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.

President Chávez will be remembered for his bold assertion of autonomy and independence for Latin American governments and for his formidable communication skills and personal connection with supporters in his country and abroad to whom he gave hope and empowerment. During his 14-year tenure, Chávez joined other leaders in Latin America and the Caribbean to create new forms of integration. Venezuelan poverty rates were cut in half, and millions received identification documents for the first time allowing them to participate more effectively in their country's economic and political life.

At the same time, we recognize the divisions created in the drive towards change in Venezuela and the need for national healing. We hope that as Venezuelans mourn the passing of President Chávez and recall his positive legacies — especially the gains made for the poor and vulnerable — the political leaders will move the country forward by building a new consensus that ensures equal opportunities for all Venezuelans to participate in every aspect of national life.


by: Ruth Nicholl from: Victoria, BC, Canada
March 06, 2013 12:12 PM
If all elected leaders were judged by equal measures, Mr Chavez would look no worse than many, and a great deal better than some. Any elected government that managed, in just twelve years, to reduce extreme poverty in its population from 23.4% to 8.5% must have done something good.
As for corruption, previous Venezuelan governments were usually described as corrupt - with the added (but rarely reported) problem of that 23.4% of citizens living in extreme poverty.
If I were one of those mothers in Venezuela whose baby is alive because of the fall in infant mortality (from 20/1000 live births in 1999 to 13/1000 live births in 2011) I would be puzzled by harsh criticism of Mr Chavez. As a 'first world' citizen I am not puzzled, though - just ashamed for people of my economic class that we let babes die so that we can play tennis, live in gated communities, go on cruises... You know?

by: NVO from: USA
March 06, 2013 12:11 PM
Fathom the hypocrisy of so-called "world leaders" who mourn for a TYRANT. Good riddance to this BUFFOON, and good riddance to his successor, and good riddance to autocracy. And STOP the FAKE CRYING!

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