Columns / Discourse / March 6, 2013

Hugo Chávez dies: What the future holds for Venezuela

Across the United States, people are no doubt raising a glass in celebration. Sarcastic statuses are flooding Facebook and Twitter as the American people are busy celebrating the latest fallen threat to the States. As we celebrate, others cry over the corpse of the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez.

Nicolas Maduro, the Venezuelan vice president, announced the death of Chávez, 58, Tuesday, March 5. According to the BBC, Chávez has not been seen in public since his return to Venezuela last month after cancer treatment in Cuba.

Diagnosed with cancer in 2011, his illness was not a secret to voters who reelected him during fall of last year for another six-year term.

For those who have popped the bubbly, I suggest you put it on ice while you consider the future of Venezuela.

Chávez was undeniably one of the most controversial figures in Latin American history. However, we cannot deny that he was chosen by the Venezuelan people and in spite of his many faults — like censorship or control over the country’s Supreme Court — he did great things for this developing nation.

The country’s poverty rate has decreased 50 percent since he took office, and extreme poverty has gone down by a substantial 70 percent. He supports a socialist system of free college tuition and free health care for all, which I think the U.S. could learn from.

According to an article published by The The New York Times, “the leftist leaders have seen Venezuela as part of a team that has brought more democracy, national sovereignty and economic and social progress to the region.” He has delivered on his promises to the Venezuelan people, and we cannot ignore what he has done for the country. Furthermore, we must think about the general welfare of the nation when we take his death into account.

Chávez openly flaunted a disdain for the United States. That disdain will not die with him.

Maduro lives on as Chávez’s choice as successor, and though Venezuela is bound under its constitution to place Diosdado Cabello as the interim president, it seems inevitable that

Maduro will carry on Chávez’s legacy.
According to an article in La Opinión the leader leaves a void in the radical left Latin American world that the Bolivian president, Evo Morales or the Ecuadoran president, Rafael Correa will struggle to fill.

I agree that this death will mark the world of Latin American politics in a remarkable way, but it will not eliminate the leftist movement, nor will is it likely to improve U.S. relations with Latin America.

According to the BBC, Cabello is blaming the onset of Chávez’s cancer on Venezuela’s enemies. For those concerned about animosity between the States and Venezuela, rest assured that will carry on.

For better or worse, another Chávez will rise from the ashes, so you best save the bubbly for another day and think about the future of Venezuela now.

Samantha Paul
Samantha Paul is a senior double majoring in creative writing and Spanish. She previously served as both a news reporter and a copy editor for TKS. During the summer of 2012, Sam served as press chair of a literacy brigade in El Salvador. She has also interned with both Bloom Magazine and The Galesburg Register-Mail. At Knox, Sam is an organizational editor for Catch magazine.

Tags:  Chávez Evo Morales Latin America Maduro politics Rafael Correa United States Venezuela

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