Leader, Friend, Martyr: Chavez Remembered by World

SRINAGAR: Just as the news of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez’s death on Wednesday spread, messages of condolence started to pour in from allies and foes alike. 

Even adversaries like the US put their differences aside and condoled with the nation.

Russia owes close bi-lateral ties to Chavez

Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed his late Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez as an uncommon and strong man who had made a huge contribution to relations between Moscow and Caracas.

“He was an uncommon and strong man who looked into the future and always set the highest target for himself,”  Putin said in a telegram of condolence, thanking Chavez for laying the “solid basis” for Russia-Venezuela relations.

China remembers ‘great leader’

China described the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez as a “great friend of the Chinese people” on Wednesday, promising to maintain ties with the petroleum-rich South American country.

Chavez, known for his leftist policies, sought close relations with Beijing’s Communist authorities in a bid to reduce his country’s dependence on the United States, and Venezuela now sells some 640,000 barrels of oil a day to China.

In turn, Beijing has extended at least $30 billion in credit to Caracas.

“President Chavez was a great leader of Venezuela as well as a great friend of the Chinese people and has made an important contribution to friendly and cooperative relations between China and Venezuela,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

 “Venezuela is an important country in the region and also a good friend of China,” she said at a regular briefing in Beijing.

Iran hails ‘martyr’

The Iranian government declared a day of national mourning on the demise of its key ally in America’s, Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez and the country also plans to hold a commemoration ceremony to honor him.

During a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the Iranian government announced a day of national mourning to honor Chavez, who forged close ties with Tehran in defiance of US and Western pressures. 

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad paid tribute to late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez on Wednesday saying he had fallen as a “martyr” to a “suspect illness”.

Ahmadinejad also hailed his close ally for “serving the people of Venezuela and defending human and revolutionary values.”

“He finally died from a suspect illness and he gave his life to the elevation of his country and the freedom of his people,” Ahmadinejad said in a message of condolences to Vice President Nicolas Maduro.

The Iranian president was backing claims made by Maduro shortly before Chavez’s death was announced that Venezuela’s enemies had somehow afflicted the firebrand leftist with the cancer that eventually killed him.

“Venezuela lost its brave, strong son and the world lost a wise and revolutionary leader,” Ahmadinejad added.

“I have no doubt that he will return, along with the righteous Jesus and the perfect human.”

Iran and Venezuela have both pursued strongly anti-American foreign policies and have signed billions of dollars in investment agreements in recent years.

US for developing ties

Washington’s response to the death of Chavez, who had repeatedly thumbed his nose at the United States and referred to president George W Bush as a “donkey” and the “devil,” was more circumspect.

“At this challenging time of President Hugo Chavez’s passing, the United States reaffirms its support for the Venezuelan people and its interest in developing a constructive relationship with the Venezuelan government,” President Barack Obama said in a short statement.

“As Venezuela begins a new chapter in its history, the United States remains committed to policies that promote democratic principles, the rule of law, and respect for human rights.”

UN pays tribute

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon paid tribute to Chavez’s work on behalf of his country’s poor and his support of Colombia’s peace process, saying he “spoke to the challenges and aspirations of the most vulnerable Venezuelans.” KO Monitoring Desk

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