Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's death brings mixed reaction - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; KNOE.com |

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's death brings mixed reaction

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Source: AP Source: AP

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - He saw himself as a revolutionary and savior of the poor. But the legacy of Hugo Chavez will be much more complex.

His death was announced to Venezuelans on national television this afternoon. Chavez lost a two-year battle with cancer, the only adversary he couldn't beat. He continually battled detractors and outsmarted rivals, defeating a coup attempt and winning re-election three times.

Chavez used Venezuela's vast oil income to fund social programs including food markets, free clinics, new public housing and education. That made him extremely popular with the poor. Official statistics showed poverty rates declined from 50 percent at the beginning of Chavez's first term in 1999 to 32 percent in the second half of 2011.

Chavez used his booming voice and folksy style to electrify crowds. But his 14 years in office were marked by polarized struggles and sharp criticism of the U.S. In a 2006 speech to the U.N. General Assembly, he called President George W. Bush the devil, saying the podium reeked of sulfur after Bush's address.

Hugo Chavez was 58.

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's death is eliciting reactions as mixed and outsized as the fiery leader drew in life, with some saying his passing was a tragic loss and others calling it an opportunity.

Some of the many Venezuelans living in Florida are reacting with cautious optimism that there will be change in their homeland following his death on Tuesday. Republican U.S. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida called Chavez's death "an opportunity for democracy in Venezuela."

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter released a statement saying Chavez "will be remembered for his bold assertion of autonomy and independence for Latin American governments."

At the United Nations, Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin called the death "a tragedy. He was a great politician for his country, Latin America and the world."

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is affirming American support for the Venezuelan people and a constructive relationship with their government after the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Obama says in a statement that Chavez's death marks a challenging time for Venezuela. He says the U.S. is committed to promoting democratic principles, human rights and the rule of law.

Venezuela's vice president announced that Chavez died Tuesday after a long battle with cancer. Chavez, a fiery populist, led Venezuela for 14 years.

Chavez's inner circle has long claimed the United States was behind a failed a 2002 attempt to overthrow him, and he has frequently played the anti-American card to stir up support. The announcement of Chavez's death came hours after the government said it had expelled two U.S. diplomats from Venezuela.

DORAL, Fla. (AP) - Venezuelans living in the United States are reacting with cautious optimism that there will be change in their homeland following President Hugo Chavez's death.

In the Miami suburb of Doral, Venezuelans watched on television as the country's vice president, Nicolas Maduro, announced Chavez had died Tuesday. At a popular restaurant, one person cheered at e news, but the rest watched quietly and refrained from any celebration.

Doral has the largest concentration of Venezuelans in the U.S. Dora's mayor and police chief prepared a security and contingency plan in the event of Chavez's death. Many Venezuelans are expected to gather at restaurants and meeting spots in Miami, though few people immediately showed up.

There are nearly 190,000 Venezuelans in the United States. Many are strongly anti-Chavez.

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