MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died Tuesday afternoon after more than a decade in office and a lengthy fight with cancer. The death of Chavez, who has been virulently anti-American, was greeted with hope for the future from local politicians.
President Barack Obama: 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. 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.
Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart: “For more than a decade, the Venezuelan people have suffered under the authoritarian rule of Hugo Chavez. He cracked down on freedom of the press and arrested judges and opposition leaders who didn’t agree with him. Additionally, he used petro dollars stolen from the Venezuelan people to extend his influence and fund the sinister agendas of cruel dictators like Castro, Ahmadinejad, and Assad. Now, there is hope for the restoration of freedom in Venezuela with truly free and fair elections, renewal of a civil society, and the protection of an independent press. I share the hopes of South Florida’s patriotic Venezuelan community that today will mark a new era and the start of a brighter future for their beloved country.”
Senator Bill Nelson: “The rule of Hugo Chavez is over. Hopefully there will be a peaceful transition of power in Venezuela with real, meaningful democratic reforms.”
Congressman Joe Garcia: “Today represents an opportunity for Venezuela to chart a new path, one that includes all voices, civil society and embraces democracy. If a new Venezuelan government embraces these principles then I am confident that its future will be a bright one.”
Former Congressman Connie Mack, IV: “Today, we do not mourn the death of Hugo Chavez, but instead, we celebrate the possibility that Venezuela can be born anew as a free, secure and prosperous democracy and that Latin America can embark on a new and peaceful path in the world.”
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: “The Venezuela people now have an opportunity to emerge from this oppressive regime and regain their democracy and human rights. However, this can only be done through a true democratic process with free, fair, and transparent elections. I am hopeful that democracy will rise from the ashes of the Chavez regime and again become a part of a new Venezuela. Now it is up to the Venezuelan people to redefine and rebuild their nation as a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous state free of the clutches of Chavez and his disastrous social and economic policies.”