Hugo Chávez’s extraordinary career as military rebel, people’s hero and agent of deep social change in Venezuela, as well as a leader of the anti-imperialist struggle in Latin America, has inspired the world while putting fear in the hearts of the imperialists.
His announcement that his cancer has returned despite many efforts by Cuba’s stellar medical teams to cure him has shocked and saddened progressives everywhere, especially the masses in Latin America who have looked to the Bolivarian Revolution as a path to both independence from imperialism and to regional integration of their efforts for development with social justice.
It is the masses of people who in the long run make history. Comrade Chávez knows this so well. For 14 years he has been the people’s tribune, their courageous leader, who stood with them against the oligarchy and was in turn rescued by them from the hands of the U.S.-backed coup plotters. He has initiated an extensive dialogue with the people on how to bring about socialism in the 21st century. Now he has bravely told the people that they need to prepare for a possible transition of leadership if he becomes incapacitated by his illness. His designated successor is Vice President Nicolás Maduro, a former labor unionist and minister of foreign affairs.
This distressing situation is a development that Washington will try to take advantage of and escalate its ongoing plan to destabilize the revolutionary process in Venezuela. The day before Chávez flew to Cuba for more treatment, tens of thousands of Venezuelans assembled in downtown Caracas on Dec. 9 to wish him well and display their solidarity in the face of uncertainty and grief. It is urgent that revolutionaries and all progressives firmly come together in support of the Bolivarian Revolution as the Venezuelan people work their way through these difficult days.