Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Dies At 58

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Dies At 58Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez has died aged 58, after 14 years in power. Mr Chavez had been seriously ill with cancer for more than a year, undergoing several operations in Cuba, and had not been seen in public for several months. Foreign Minister Elias Jose Jaua Milano declared seven days of mourning and said Mr Chavez’s body would lie in state until his funeral on Friday.

‘Interim president’

Vice-President Nicolas Maduro would assume the presidency until an election was called within 30 days, he added. It was not immediately clear when the election would take place.

Mr Chavez’s illness prevented him from taking the oath of office after he was re-elected for a third term in October and the President of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, had been expected by some to take over as interim president in the event of his death. However, he was not among the political and military leaders who flanked the vice-president when he announced Mr Chavez’s death.

‘Vocal and controversial’

Analysts say Mr Chavez’s death could alter the political balance in Latin America – dealing a blow to leftist states while favouring more centrist countries. There could also be an economic impact given that Venezuela sells oil at below market prices to some neighbouring countries, especially in the Caribbean.

One of the most visible, vocal and controversial leaders in Latin America, Hugo Chavez won the presidency in 1998 and had most recently won another six-year presidential term in October 2012. His government has implemented a number of “missions” or social programmes, including education and health services for all. But poverty and unemployment are still widespread, despite the country’s oil wealth.

Who do you think will take the place of Hugo Chavez as Venezuela’s new President? And what major changes could take place as a result of this sad happening?

Source: BBC News

Image: The Washington Times

Venezuela Sets ‘Record Murder Rate’

A Venezuelan campaign group says the country has suffered a record number of murders in 2011. The Venezuela Violence Observatory says at least 19,336 people have been killed this year, an average of 53 a day. The figures suggest Venezuela’s murder rate is the highest in South America and four times that of Mexico.

Criminal violence is set to be a major issue in next year’s elections, when President Hugo Chavez is seeking another term in office. Its figures – based on research by several Venezuelan universities – suggest that in 2011 Venezuela had a murder rate of 67 per 100,000 inhabitants. That compares to 32 per 100,000 last year in neighbouring Colombia and 14 per 100,000 in Mexico, two countries suffering widespread drug-related violence.

The Venezuelan government has recognised the problem of violent crime, though its figures are lower. The OVV says violent crime has risen steadily in Venezuela since 1999 when President Chavez took office. In that year only 4,550 murders were registered. The group did not give an overall reason for the rising violence, but said the problem was fuelled by impunity, with the great majority of killings going unpunished. A high level of gun ownership is also a factor.

Along with the murder rate, levels of robbery and kidnap have also been going up. In November, President Hugo Chavez announced the creation of a new armed force – the People’s Guard – to improve public security.


Source: BBC News

Image: IB Times