The death of Latin America’s “last caudillo,” or strongman, prompted an outpouring of eulogies from supporters, while those who kept cooler relations with the Venezuelan leader expressed hope for a democratic transition of power. Media coverage the world over highlighted the polarized perceptions many administrations and global citizens had of the Chávez administration.
Leaders around the world who saw a friend and ally in Mr. Chávez mourned his passing and expressed “Bolivarian solidarity” with Venezuela. The outpouring was especially strong in Latin America, where Chávez had sought to create closer regional ties.
Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who is seen by some as the ideological heiress to Chávez in Latin America, declared three days of mourning and was expected to leave Wednesday for Venezuela to attend the late president’s wake. A funeral is scheduled for Friday.
Venezuela’s closest ally, Cuba, also declared three days of mourning to honor a man seen by that government as embodying the spirit of the Cuban Revolution. The Granma, the official newspaper of the Cuban communist party, called Chávez "a son of Cuba."
He felt deeply our difficulties and problems and did all he could, with extraordinary generosity.... He accompanied Fidel [Castro] like a true son and his friendship with Raúl [Castro] was close.
“From now on, his name, his legacy, his thinking will be used as a reference point and orientation over how Venezuela should be run. The next government may ask itself, 'What would comandante Chávez do?' " Mr. Filloy wrote.
In Peru, Ollanta Humala offered “our Bolivarian, South American, Latin American solidarity” to the Venezuelan people. The president urged unity, calm, and reflection in Venezuela, and that “things can be carried out in a peaceful manner, within the democratic course.” Mr. Humala’s once-warm relationship with Chávez cooled as he shifted away from the populist style characteristic of his counterpart.
“Chavez will continue to be an inspiration for all peoples who fight for their liberation,” said Bolivian President Evo Morales in a tearful televised speech.
News, comments, condolences, and hopes for the future lit up Twitter following word of Chávez's death, while in Spanish the hashtag #MuereChávez, or “Chavez Dies” rose near the top of the world's most tweeted on the social network.
One tweet read in Spanish, "#MuereChávez but his struggle and his love for the people and the nation will remain forever tattooed in the hearts of his followers."
"Chavismo," said the editors of El Salvador's El Faro online newspaper, "will have to reinvent itself or die."
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