Local Student from Venezuela Talks of Life After Chavez [AUDIO]
ST. CLOUD — Imagine a world where you sell your apartment out of fear that someone else will simply take it from you. Now picture losing your entire pension you have spent your whole life working for because you dared to criticize your government.
These are just a few examples that contribute to the legacy of the deceased former president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez.
Chavez, 58, died March 5th after a two year battle with cancer. His death ended the 14 year reign of the once charismatic leader enjoyed over the South American nation.
Supporters of the fallen leader are keeping his memory alive by rallying in the streets as his casket is put on display. But not all Venezuelans are mourning for their former president.
WJON News recently met with a native Venezuelan, who lived in the country for more than 17 years.
Due to fear of retaliation by the Venezuelan government, his identify is being withheld.
He said death was the only way Chavez would be removed from office.
The man known for his strong opposition to the U.S. was a popular figure to followers – especially the poor.
According to the CIA World Factbook, nearly one-third of all Venezuelans live below the poverty line.
This voting block helped in multiple elections and secure his bid to amend the country’s constitution, which critics say would allow him to serve as president for life.
Although Chavez faced opposition for his actions, he made it difficult to criticize his government.
Venezuelans under Chavez saw the country’s homicide rate triple – giving it the fifth highest homicide rate in the world.
The unnamed source said Chavez “created a culture of anarchy.” He continued by saying it is not uncommon for someone who dared to be critical of the government to “disappear.”
This is nothing new for Venezuela. The unnamed source said his grandfather was tortured to the point of being permanently wheel-chair bound for his political activism in the 1950’s.
Chavez dealt with his critics in the media by taking over or shutting down more 30 radio and television stations.
Media companies were not the only industries nationalized.
Chavez took over the lucrative Venezuelan oil market and mining companies. Since then, oil prices have increased – leaving Venezuelans to question where the extra revenue has gone?
Even supermarkets could not escape Chavez. Grocery stores were taken over in the name of the “public good.”
Venezuelans have found it difficult to buy even the most basic items at their grocery stores.
The unnamed source said there is hope for his country, but it will not come immediately.
A presidential election has been scheduled for April 14th.
Acting president Nicholas Maduro will face opposition leader Henrique Capriles. Maduro is the hand-picked successor, chosen by Chavez.