Chavez leaves legacy of change in Venezuela

Columnist and Columnist

This past week, Venezuela’s sitting president, Hugo Chavez, died after a two year-long battle with cancer at the age of 58.

A hero to the poor of Venezuela and a political enemy to parts of the world, Chavez’s death brought the world’s attention to the Latin American region as the anti-American leader passed away.

How does someone portray Chavez properly, amiss the good, the bad and the bias views?

Chavez was known for his charismatic leadership, winning the support of the poorest within Venezuela. This helped him win the 1998 presidential election, after his second attempt at a military coup to overthrow the Venezuelan government was successful.

In order to connect with his people, Chavez would broadcast passionate speeches that usually ended with song during weekly national television and radio broadcasts.

Chavez aided Venezuela with reforms within the country, improving the quality of life. During his tenure in office he lowered poverty rates, doubled the rate of students going into universities and improved the citizens’ access to both health care and education. State-run food markets, free health clinics and educational programs were also established under Chavez’s presidency.

Chavez also survived a coup in 2002 from the middle class, who felt their power was draining away. He was removed from office, later taking it back after the poor took to the streets and put him back in power.

In 2011, Chavez announced he had an unspecified type of cancer. He went to allied Cuba for medical treatment, undergoing four surgeries. The last one in February left Chavez in the hospital until his death.

Chavez is thought to have rigged the most recent presidential election. Even though the polls within Venezuela were close, they weren’t a complete landslide like other fixed elections throughout the world. Chavez also proposed he would be able to have an unconditional amount of years in office, which was approved by the country’s voting governmental body.

All of Venezuela felt and reacted to the death announcement. Citizens cried and took to the streets with flags and posters of Chavez. His legacy would be forever felt in Venezuela, regardless of what foreign officials have to say about his death and the future of the country.

Chavez brought reform for the struggling Venezuelans, improving their lives greatly. But Chavez will be known for leaving the country in an economic mess and a political crisis with his time spent in Cuba and the validity of the presidential decrees from the time Chavez was there for the cancer treatments.

Chavez was also known for speaking out against world powers such as America. Two of Venezuela’s biggest allies are Cuba and Iran, which America does not see eye-to-eye with. Chavez led his fellow Latin American countries in limiting American influences within the region, putting an end to any imperialistic feelings America was giving off.

American interests in Venezuela lie within the oil the county has. Chavez used the oil booms in order to fund his country’s economic reforms, but the money and benefits were not shared on a global level.

As someone who has read both sides of the spectrum surrounding the legacy of Chavez, a strong impression was left with the reforms he led the country through, even though he did not support the economy properly.

Of course America saw Chavez as an enemy, with his anti-American feelings, political allies and socialist political standings. Chavez had made clear his feelings toward America.

He called former President George W. Bush the devil and blamed his cancer on American spies. This itself brought him ridicule from Americans who cannot see the bigger picture of what progressive steps he took for his country.

America needs to take a step back and not act like a dog begging for a treat when a president dies, hoping for better relations from a mourning nation.

If America wishes to pursue better relations within Latin America, step back and let the mourning period to end before jumping headfirst into dialogue.

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