Hugo Chavez who died from cancer will be buried today, but the firebrand leader’s socialist policies to side with the poor would live forever, though not his lifestyle.
Since Chavez breathed last on Tuesday following a throat infection after surgical complication in Cuba, the people of Venezuela, especially the poor have remained inconsolable as they thronged streets of the capital city Caracas in red. In power for 14 years, Chavez was voted for another term of office but could not be sown in due to his illness and his absence from the country.
However, his supporters had continued to pray for his recovery, which unfortunately never happened. Even at his dead bed, Chavez popularity had never been beaten as millions of his followers and admirers are expected to attend his ostentatious state funeral. Well known as the people’s president, Chavez led a socialist revolution that saw him transformed the lives of thousands of unprivileged or poor Venezuelans.
With money pumped into the economy with sales from crude oil, he initiated many projects earmarked to change the lives of many Venezuelans. Although Chavez had many good intentions for his people because of his charismatic, fearless and bombastic approach to socialism he became power drunk and developed an inexorable hatred for America. As if that was not enough provocation for America, the former military officer made most of the enemies of America his personal friends.
As socialism and capitalism hardly mix, the fall of oil prices affected most his projects. This global fall of oil price also affected Chavez’s critics, especially the middle class that have been overshadowed by the nouveau-rich; his socialist political system, and his contentious and lavishing way of living. With more friends to visit abroad and lots of hard currency from oil to spend on these expensive state trips, Chavez derailed from his initiative to take from the rich and share with the have-nots – thereby eliminating the pest of inequality in the society.
With vigorous ideas, Chavez had imposed himself the King of Venezuela, if not that of Latin America with lots of admirers neighbouring countries. Very vocal as well as no-nonsense he was always ready to fire back at his critics as well as enemies both within and outside. For people who did not know the late president well, he would be remembered for his rebellious challenge to US foreign policies and his comradeship with anti-American leaders like former Cuban President Fidel Castrol, Gaddafi of Libya, Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Saddam Hussein of Iraq, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, and even Bashar al-Assad of Syria.
Courage curtailed by cancer
If the adage that no matter how high a bird can fly it will eventual come to land, makes any sense, then Chavez’s kite got carried by the strong winds of cancer too soon. It is believed that he was first diagnosed with the lethal disease two years back, but successfully kept it under the carpet and away from the world inquisitive media. Although his chemotherapy had been responsive, a complication with his respiratory track, which might have come as a side effect of the treatment, had kept the commander bedbound for months. Even after another follow-up surgery, situation had been far from better. As a true loyalist of his country and his own ideology, Chavez had instructed his government and aides to carry on with his revolution if he finally lost the battle to cancer. Like a true soldiers he kept the faith and motivated his troops to carry on as if to say, if the commander is shot, it is not the end, but the beginning of another assault.
The crowds that have kept pouring out into the streets to either mourn or maintain their unflinching support for the man who came from an average family and rose to fame testifies that Chavez himself had no regret dying. He must have loved to have such a grandiose ending to his journey, rather than to be shot or deposed through a coup or humiliated through an election. He must have had a painful FIN in his dramatised life, especially as the complication after the surgery kept him lips tied, but the smile on his face in a picture taken with his two girls before he was flown home from Cuba, spoke volumes. Chavez is gone, but his good days would remain in the hearts and minds of his followers forever.