TeleSUR, the television channel that Venezuela’s fallen leader Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias and other Latin American leaders helped create, featured a live broadcast of Chavez’s official state funeral on Friday, March 8.
Besides showing the arrival of some 30 heads of state who came to the Latin American nation to express condolences for the untimely demise of the 58-year-old president, TeleSUR also featured testimonials from the thousands of Venezuelans–many of whom had traveled from across the nation to wait in long lines in temperatures as high as 86 degrees–who come to say their goodbyes to Chavez.
Older women thanked Chavez for allowing them to have a pension. There were middle-aged people who spoke of now having the dignity to live in a proper home–something they never thought they would do. Many Venezuelans thanked Chavez for granting them access to education and health care for the first time in their lives.
However, the long lines of sympathizers did not impress members of Venezuela’s opposition. New elections will take place on April 14 to determine who will serve as the next president of Venezuela, and the opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles Radonski, has already declared his candidacy with what many are considering an insult to Chavez’s followers.
Capriles is running as the candidate for the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (Democratic Unity Roundtable) or MUD Party. He announced his candidacy just two days after Chavez’s state funeral. During the same speech, he accused Nicolas Maduro, the current interim president who will run as Chavez’s successor, of having used Chavez’s death for political gain.
“Nicholas lied to this country, he lied … you were lied to all these weeks,” Capriles stated during a live television broadcast of his candidacy announcement. “President Chavez went to Cuba on December 8. [Maduro] told Venezuelans he met with the president for some five hours. Nobody’s going to speak out about this? Well, I will, because I would never try to win anything by profiting off of someone else’s pain.”
Capriles’ accusation has fired up Chavez’s followers, who stated that the MUD candidate not only attacked the dignity of the state funeral held for Chavez, but also insulted Chavez’s followers, friends and immediate family, who all would have had to be in on a conspiracy to declare Chavez alive and doing fine when he had already died.
Meanwhile, Bolivia’s President Evo Morales, a close friend and political ally of Chavez, stated that Venezuelan leaders will be investigating the causes of Chavez’s death. Morales said that he is “almost certain” Chavez was somehow a victim of biological warfare. “The empire has all the tools it needs to plan actions to defeat governments and leaders of social movements that are against capitalism,” Morales declared.
In fact, back in December 2011, Chavez himself spoke about how strange it was that progressive and leftist presidents in South America were all coming down with cancer-related sicknesses. Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez had an operation in early 2012 because she showed symptoms of thyroid cancer while her husband, President Nestor Kirchner, who refused to impose International Monetary Fund-suggested austerity measures on his nation, died of a heart attack in December 2007 at age 60.
Meanwhile,Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo suffered from lymphatic cancer in August 2010. Brazil’s current president, Dilma Rousseff, and the nation’s former and most popular president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, each had cancer scares in 2009 and 2011, respectively. Lastly, Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos underwent prostate cancer surgery in October of 2012.
“It’s very difficult to explain, according to the law of probability, what has been happening to some leaders in Latin America. It’s at the least strange, very strange. I do not want to throw any reckless accusations,” Chavez said in 2011. He suggested that it might be something “that no one understands now and won’t understand for another 50 years. I don’t know, but it makes me think that this is very strange, for Lugo to have cancer, Dilma when she was a candidate, me as I began my re-election year, a few days later Lula and now Cristina.
“It’s a little hard to explain or understand. We will have to take good care of Evo [Morales] and [Rafael] Correa [of Ecuador]. This is clear, because we don’t know!”