The United States politicians will wake up today relieved that their ‘sworn-enemy’ Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (58) lost his battle against cancer yesterday.
US President Barack Obama’s ‘unsympathetic’ reaction on the news of Chavez’s death has been interpreted by some observers as a huge relief for the US, as the man who allied with Iran and defied its mighty power has finally gone forever.
Obama said the US reaffirmed its support for the Venezuelan people ‘at this challenging time’, and its interest in developing a ‘constructive relationship’ with the Venezuelan government.
Populist and anti-imperialist Chavez, who has been in power for 14 years, died in a Caracas military hospital, his son Nicolas Maduro announced last night (6pm local time).
Chavez, a former high-ranking army officer who once branded former President George W Bush ’the Devil’, was a die-hard nationalist and a socialist, and will be best remembered for nationalising foreign oil companies, and launching massive socio-economic projects to uplift local poor communities.
Venezuela, the South American nation of 28 million people, is the world’s fifth-biggest oil producer, and a member of the Organisation for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
The late Venezuelan president won presidential elections in 2012 and was to be sworn for another term.
He has been battling cancer for the past two years and undergoing cancer treatment in Cuba for the past two months. Immediately after the news of his death spread, the Cuba government announced a three-day period to mourn this ‘great hero’ of socialism.
However, it remains unclear who will replace Chavez, but reports from the capital Caracas suggest that his son, who was appointed the country’s vice-president, will rule the oil-rich nation, though the constitution suggests otherwise.
The presidential elections are due in 30 days to replace the dead head of state, according to the constitution.
The world is waiting impatiently to see if his son or whoever replaces Chavez will seek ‘friendly engagements’ with the world’s biggest economy, while not necessarily becoming a puppet of what Chavez and the current Iranian president described as the ‘Great Satan’.
But Maduro immediately showcased what the post-Chavez administration will look like by expelling two US diplomats, who he blamed for causing the late president’s cancer.
Watch this space!
*Photo by AFP/Files. The late Venezuela president Hugo Chavez