Girish Gupta

HOME

BY COUNTRY

Brazil
Colombia
Cuba
Ecuador
Egypt
Guyana
Iraq
Jordan
Lebanon
Mexico
United Kingdom
Venezuela

BY MEDIUM

Text
Photo
Radio
TV/Video

BY PUBLISHER

Al Jazeera
BBC
BuzzFeed
CBC
Christian Science Monitor
CNN
Daily Mail
Datum
Ecologist
Economist Intelligence Unit
Emerging Markets
Financial Times
Foreign Policy
France 24
Fusion
GlobalPost
Guardian
Independent
La Prensa (Panama)
LatinFinance
Mancunion
Monocle
National (Abu Dhabi)
New Internationalist
New Statesman
New York Times
New Yorker
NPR
PBS
PRI
Radio France Internationale
Reuters
RTE
Sky News
Sun
Sunday Times
Telegraph
TIME
Times of London
USA Today
Vice
WLRN

ABOUT

About
CV
Contact (PGP Key)

Twitter
Facebook
LinkedIn
Anxious Chavez fans pray for 'Comandante' homecoming
Jun. 29, 2011

Published by Reuters

* President underwent surgery in Cuba

* Rumors have swirled about his health

By Girish Gupta

CARACAS, June 28 (Reuters) - From Caracas shantytowns and churches to lunch lines at "socialist" food outlets, supporters of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez are praying and waiting for his safe return from Cuba.

At the Santa Capilla church just a block from his Miraflores presidential palace, security guard Williams Rengel said it has been much busier since the firebrand leader underwent an operation in Havana on June 10.

"Those praying want prosperity for the people and want things back to normal," he told Reuters.

"He's our president and thanks to him we have houses and so much. Apart from that, he's also a human being," he said.

Chavez, 56, bases his popularity with Venezuela's poor majority on what he calls a long-overdue "revolution" to close a yawning gap between incomes in a nation that combines huge natural wealth with high unemployment.

But his absence from public view since the surgery has turned the country's already volatile political scene on its head and triggered a host of rumors that he may be much more ill than has been admitted. For full coverage [ID:nCHAVEZ]

Jimmy Olvas was playing dominoes with friends on a street near the church, where walls are plastered with giant murals of the former soldier alongside fellow revolutionaries including Argentina's Ernesto "Che" Guevara and Latin American independence hero Simon Bolivar.

"All the churches of this country are praying for Chavez," he said, nodding toward Santa Capilla as the boisterous group of men shouted and slammed their pieces down on the table.

"We pray for him to return quickly and to recover fast."

NO CLEAR SUCCESSOR

Chavez's supporters accuse his rivals of cynically rejoicing over speculation about his health and wishing for his death because they cannot beat him at the polls.

While opposition leaders have sought to avoid the impression of exploiting the situation, many anti-Chavez Venezuelans have been privately rubbing their hands in glee.

"I don't wish anyone dead, but I wish him long gone out of our lives and our country," said one Caracas resident and former Chavez supporter, who asked not to be named.

"He should just stay in Cuba -- forever!"

The saga has raised concerns at home and abroad and underlined the absence of any clear successor to Chavez, who has dominated Venezuelan politics since he won power in 1999 and nationalized large parts of the economy.

A few blocks from the church at one of his headline grabbing initiatives -- a low-cost canteen selling the national dish, "arepa" cornmeal flatbreads filled with meat or cheese -- diners have few doubts he would be home soon.

"Our ministers are doing a good job and our Comandante will be back," says pensioner Pedro Torruloc below a big picture of Chavez and a poster proclaiming the advantages of socialism.

Lining up for his lunch, Torruloc points out that the western media have repeatedly buried Chavez's close friend and mentor, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

"Remember that Fidel has been killed thousands of times," he said with a chuckle. "If the opposition don't have Chavez, they go crazy. Without Chavez they're nothing because they have nothing to talk about."

(Editing by Daniel Wallis)




More...

Crisis-hit Venezuela halts publication of another major indicator
Mar. 21, 2017


Back in Venezuela, 'world's worst skier' proud of his performance
Feb. 26, 2017


Some poor Venezuelan parents give away children amid deep crisis
Dec. 15, 2016


Desperate to dump soon-worthless cash, Venezuelans flock to banks
Dec. 13, 2016


Inflation-hit Venezuela to pull largest bill from circulation
Dec. 11, 2016


Venezuela confirms bigger bills amid world's highest inflation
Dec. 04, 2016


Venezuela PDVSA awards $3.2 bln oil service contracts, protest brews
Sept. 21, 2016


Maduro revels in support from Zimbabwe, Iran as critics decry failed summit
Sept. 18, 2016


Venezuela summit draws few leaders in blow to Maduro
Sept. 17, 2016


Near Venezuela summit, pots-and-pans protest showed domestic tumult
Sept. 17, 2016


Once 'Pearl of Caribbean' gets new shine for Venezuela summit
Sept. 16, 2016


Maduro boasts start of Venezuela summit despite 'gringo pressure'
Sept. 13, 2016


Venezuela's troubles overshadow Non-Aligned Summit
Sept. 11, 2016


Venezuela renews drilling tender after earlier collapse - sources
Aug. 26, 2016


Hungry in a Venezuelan slum, a Facebook Live video
Aug. 04, 2016








© Girish Gupta