The controversial and populist president of Venezuela, Mr. Hugo Chavez has died after losing a battle against cancer. He was very popular not only in Venezuela but in the whole world, mainly for declaring the US his enemy and for approaching to countries like Russia and Iran.
A self-proclaimed socialist and revolutionary, he got support among the poor and won repeated election by using Venezuela's oil wealth to pursue “socialist” policies. His government has implemented social programmes, including health services for all. This was the kind of speech he was used to saying and in some regions it really was implemented but, in Venezuela as a whole, mainly in Caracas, poverty has spread out all over the regions.
Internationally, he was a staunch critic of US "imperialism" and accused Washington of backing failed coups against him (chiefly in 2002).
I like to compare him to the ex-Brazilian President Lula. As well as Mr. Lula, he also used populism to come to power. Education was out of the scope –although it was part of all speeches. Giving food to the poor was more important than giving them education. In some regions it is actually more important, at least for a short period of time, but with education people are able “to think with their own brains” - and would not be dependent on governments only – besides being capable of learning about. But, it was not his flag.
At some extent, Chavez had some reason in telling about the abuses the US makes in poking its nose everywhere in the world (notwithstanding he made a big mistake in making agreements with countries such as Iran) but he also used his “acclaimed” status of “foe of the US” to promote himself; and it has worked a lot.
South America for some time has become “red” or leftist. I can mention Lula and Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, Cristina Kirchner in Argentina, Ollanta Humala in Peru, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, José Mujica in Uruguay and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. Among all of them, the ex-President of Venezuela was the most critic of the United States. All others, despite being reserved about American policies, use to deal with the US in a respectable manner. So, for the USA, the death of Chavez will be seen as something positive to the region.
But, what’s next? Will Venezuela choose other president than a populist one? In Venezuela people love Chavez more than hate him, and it was demonstrated in the last election. Perhaps, we can expect nothing but continuity of his government, after all socialism is being implemented gradually in Venezuelan soil – and in South America as well – and another socialist will ascend to power. The impact it will have in the relationship with all American countries will be known in 30 days, when Venezuelan people will choose their new president.
For now, Hugo Chavez has left this world with his most known word that described, in his views, the United States: “imperialism”. It is almost impossible to do not associate this word to him.
To conclude, I hope to see a really democratic President ascending to power in Venezuela (at least a less troublemaker), as well as I hope the same occur to all South America.