May 20, 2013
Condolences to President Chávez flood in
Political figures from all major parties and groups, as well as government ministers, expressed their condolences to Venezuela and their memories of President Hugo Chávez after his death on Tuesday.
However, Security Minister Nilda Garré yesterday went further when she described the sequence of political leaders in the Latin American region suffering cancer as a “suggestive coincidence.” Garré took the lead from Venezuela’s new transitional President Nicolás Maduro, who had stated on Tuesday that Chávez was “attacked” by forces using cancer as a weapon.
“Chávez himself already made comments last year in which he pointed out the ‘coincidence’ that Latin American leaders of the time, including (former Paraguayan president Fernando) Lugo, (former Brazilian president) Lula and (Brazil’s current president) Dilma (Rouseff) were all suffering from serious illnesses, like cancer,” said the security minister in an interview yesterday.
President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who flew to Caracas, Venezuela, on Tuesday night together with Uruguay’s President José Mujica, yesterday made a joint statement with Mujica and their Brazilian counterpart, President Dilma Rousseff.
The joint statement expressed the leaders’ “deep regret” and stated that “the best form of tribute to (Chávez) would be to preserve his legacy, activism and commitment to the regional integration project.”
The President, Mujica and Bolivian President Evo Morales formed part of the guard of honour at yesterday’s wake.
Earlier in the day, Argentina’s ambassador to Venezuela, Carlos Cheppi, said that Fernández de Kirchner “felt an affection which went far beyond protocol with Chávez.”
“When (late former president) Néstor (Kirchner) died, Chávez was very supportive emotionally for (Fernández de Kirchner) and her family,” continued Cheppi, adding that “this is not a situation defined by protocol but by affection, family affection,”
Argentina’s ambassador to London Alicia Castro (who was formerly ambassador to Venezuela and is known to have been close to Chávez) stated yesterday from Britain that Chávez “will continue to play a highly important role in South American unity. Chávez was a leader who was indignant against injustice, intolerant toward inequality and who reported the causes of poverty.”
The leader of the dissident CGT umbrella union group, Hugo Mo-yano, yesterday paid his respects by stating that “there is no longer any obstacle which can deviate the brave people of Venezuela from the path they are on. During these years of arduous construction of the Bolivarian social revolution, popular awareness and determination have been consolidated.”
Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri was more grudging in his respect, stating: “I send my condolences to the Chávez family and to his followers, over and above our serious differences of vision.”
Broad Progressive Front (FAP) leader Hermes Binner praised Chávez’s gains as “during his government, Venezuela’s integration into Mercosur was achieved, which facilitated a series of positive events helping Argentina.”
However, Binner also said that “there are situations causing alarm, such as the relationship Venezuela has with Iran and Syria,” adding that “in essence, the type of government which Chávez led was populist; the problem with populism is that it does not leave heirs.”
‘OWNERS OF DESTINY’
Tributes were not limited to political figures, however. According to 1980 Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, “Chávez offered his life to give life to his people, fighting against poverty, social exclusion and illiteracy and built hope for his people and the entire continent, fighting for dignity, the freedom to be sovereign states and the owners of our own destiny.”