MOSCOW, March 6 (Itar-Tass) -- The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is a tragic event of global magnitude, Russia’s Latin American expert, Dr. Sc. (History) Nikolai Leonov said.
“This is a big loss for the Latin American peoples in the first place. In fact, Chavez was one of the key figures who had initiated regional integration processes and was their main driving force,” Leonov told Itar-Tass on Wednesday, March 6.
He played an active role in the creation of the Union of South American Nations (USAN) and the newly formed Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).
“There is no doubt that Hugo Chavez, just like Fidel Castro, his closest friend, was a bright leader for Latin American nations,” Leonov noted and recalled that the Venezuelan president had always called for fostering democratic processes in the region, eliminating poverty and social injustice, and fought actively for the liberation of Latin American countries from the U.S. political diktat.
The expert said that Chavez was the author of the Bolivarian revolution, named after Simon Bolivar, the legendary fighter for the liberation of Latin America from colonial yoke. Chavez was a strong advocate of his ideas and wanted to see his Venezuela free, prosperous, democratic, and free of poverty. This provided the basis for “socialism of the 21st century”, which Chavez started building in the country.
“I am confident that the path chosen by Chavez towards ‘socialism of the 21st century’ will be continued. The ideas imparted by the late leader have taken strong root in the minds of people, most of whom are his supporters. As a convinced democrat, a genuine democrat rather than a dictator, as his opponents are now trying to portray him, it would be suffice to say that Chavez won all elections democratically and before his death instructed his supporters to continue moving along this road,” Leonov said.
He believes that “the situation in Venezuela will develop in accordance with the constitution: early presidential elections will be held in a month’s time. I think a candidate from the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela, most likely incumbent Vice President Nicolas Maduro, will win it.”
Leonov does not rule out that Washington will try to influence the election process in Venezuela by supporting the opposition represented by Henrique Capriles, by financing it and conducting a propaganda campaign. In fact, America associates Chavez with the growing tendency among countries in the region toward political and economic independence.
“In my opinion, these trends, just like regional cooperation processes in Latin America, are irreversible and cannot be stopped by the death of a bright Latin American leader such as Chavez,” the expert said.
Speaking about the future of cooperation between Russia and Venezuela, he expressed confidence that Chavez’s death will not affect it. “Russian-Venezuelan cooperation has very deep roots and it will not be easy to pull them out. Joint humanitarian and economic projects benefit both Russia and Venezuela, and stopping them would be a great mistake,” Leonov concluded.