Girish Gupta

HOME

PHOTOS

VENEZUELA ECON

ONLINE

Twitter
Instagram
Facebook
LinkedIn
AngelList
Keybase
GitHub
IFTTT

BY COUNTRY

Afghanistan
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
Data Driven Journalism (EJC)
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)


Chavez supporters sing, dance at Venezuela hospital
Feb. 18, 2013 — Caracas, Venezuela

Published by Reuters

Girish Gupta and Andrew Cawthorne

Dancing, singing and lighting fireworks, thousands of ecstatic supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez celebrated their hero's homecoming from cancer surgery in Cuba.

Such was the party atmosphere outside the military hospital in Caracas where Chavez was taken on Monday that security staff had to appeal for calm so as not to disturb other patients.

"I love the president with all my soul, thanks be to God almighty for bringing him back to me," said Alexandra Viloria, 43, clutching a doll of Chavez and wearing the red colors of his Socialist Party in a throng outside the hospital gate.

His fans' joy was unbridled even though Chavez remains in a grave state and there is speculation he may have come home to resign and arrange a smooth transition within his ruling Socialist Party rather than return to active rule.

While hundreds went to the hospital, in a shabby part of Caracas near a hillside shanty-town, many more poured into public squares across Venezuela as state media whipped up the atmosphere with live coverage.

Ministers urged Venezuelans to fly national flags.

"HE'S BACK! HE'S BACK!"

Though despised as a clownish dictator by many opponents, and resented by private businessmen for his aggressive nationalizations and currency controls, Chavez is adored by many in the South American nation of 29 million people.

In his 14-year rule, he has constantly played up his own humble roots from birth in a rural shack, used common and folksy language in his famously long-winded speeches, and channeled oil revenues into welfare projects in neglected shanty-towns.

Opponents charge he should have done far better for the poor, given the OPEC member's unprecedented bonanza in oil revenues. But they have been unable to break his emotional bond with a large number of Venezuelans and Chavez comfortably won re-election last year.

Breaking the news of Chavez's return live on state television before dawn, Information Minister Ernesto Villegas even burst into song, joyously chanting "He's back! He's back!" - a slogan used after the president survived a brief coup in 2002.

Some scribbled the famous chant on buses in Caracas.

A huge banner of Chavez's face adorned one wall of the manila-colored military hospital. Its bustling surroundings contrasted with the leafy peace of Havana's Cimeq hospital where Chavez had been treated for the last two months.

"I've been here since 5 this morning to support the president. He is the hope of our people," said William Pelaque, 37, outside. "The squalid ones are running scared now," he added, using Chavez's term for his opponents.

One elderly man came with a tray of flowers and an image of the infant Jesus to leave outside.

One of the reasons Chavez has sought treatment in Cuba since his cancer was first detected in mid-2011 was to limit leaks of information to the media. That may be harder now he is back in gossip-crazy Venezuela rather than tightly controlled Cuba.

OPPOSITION MUTED

There was a relatively muted reaction from opposition parties, who have long struggled to match Chavez's charisma and win significant support among the poor.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who will probably face Vice President Nicolas Maduro in a presidential election should Chavez not recover, welcomed him home.

But Capriles also took a swipe at Maduro and other senior ministers, whom he accuses of neglecting Venezuela's myriad daily problems - from crime to potholes and price rises - during the all-consuming focus on Chavez's health.

"I hope the president's return means Mr. Maduro and the ministers get to work, there are thousands of problems to fix," Capriles said.

"I hope the president's return is definitive and means the immediate halting of the 'red package'," he added, using a mocking reference to recent economic measures including a devaluation of the bolivar currency.

The opposition Democratic Unity coalition also sniped at the "spectacle" around Chavez's return, saying it would hardly help his health.

Chavez's allies and fellow leftist leaders around Latin America sent best wishes for his recovery.

But there was an affectionate rebuke from Ecuador's newly-reelected president, Rafael Correa, over Chavez's quick congratulation for his sweeping re-election on Sunday.

"That's President Chavez, incorrigibly stubborn. He should be resting!" he told Colombian TV.

"I thank Commander Chavez for his congratulation, but I'm angry - forget (the Ecuador election), go and rest, and get better as soon as possible. Venezuela, his beloved Latin America, and his friends - we all need him."

(Additional reporting by Tomas Sarmiento in Quito; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Filed from
Caracas, Venezuela






More...

Advisers urge deep discount in Venezuelan cryptocurrency offering
Jan. 16, 2018


Inflationary math
Dec. 12, 2017


Venezuela money supply up 14 percent in one week, fastest rise on record
Dec. 1, 2017


How a defrocked judge became the chief enforcer for Maduro's Venezuela
Nov. 15, 2017


De cómo un juez destituido se convirtió en el principal artífice judicial del presidente de Venezuela
Nov. 15, 2017


The 'Venezuela Econ' app: Harnessing data to understand a spectacular economic meltdown
Nov. 6, 2017


Venezuela's monthly inflation rises to 34 percent: National Assembly
Sept. 7, 2017


Ousted Venezuelan prosecutor says she fears for her life, will keep fighting
Aug. 10, 2017


Venezuela quells attack on military base, two killed
Aug. 6, 2017


Exclusive: Venezuelan vote data casts doubt on turnout at Sunday poll
Aug. 2, 2017


All eyes on Venezuela military after protests, vote
Aug. 1, 2017


U.S. 'sweetheart' of Venezuela sees worrying signs of authoritarianism
Jul. 29, 2017


Venezuela money supply surges 10 percent in one week, fastest in 25 years
Jul. 29, 2017


Exclusive: At least 123 Venezuelan soldiers detained since protests - documents
Jul. 6, 2017


Venezuela hikes minimum wage 50 percent, effectively down 17 percent
Jul. 2, 2017








© Girish Gupta