Chavez demonized by Western opinion

Source:Global Times Published: 2013-3-6 23:53:01

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died on Tuesday after succumbing to his battle with cancer. The national strength of Venezuela is limited, but the personal influence wielded by Chavez far exceeded support of his country. The death of Chavez, considered a left-wing populist and anti-US fighter in Latin America, has captured global attention. He is as equally censured as praised.

Chavez had been in office for 14 years, making him the longest-serving president in Venezuelan history. His authoritarian leadership style was fostered by constant success in elections, as well as huge support from his people. But the West often saw him as a "dictator," a title that triggered Chavez to famously return fire by calling former US president George W. Bush a "devil." In the international community, Chavez undoubtedly suffered because Western opinions were more influential than those from elsewhere. Denounced as a "dictator" repeatedly, he inevitably became viewed in such an unflattering light.

Chavez's reputation proved that a leader's standing on the world stage is closely linked to their relationship with the US. Kings who hold absolute power in ruling their countries can be best defined as "dictators" in a political sense, but they avoid such a label in Western eyes if they are allies of the US.

Latin American countries have a love-hate relationship with the US. The popularity of leftist leaders in Latin America can be attributed to the strong anti-US sentiment shared among their people. However, economic development cannot take place without US support.

Ordinary Latin Americans admire the lifestyles of their US counterparts, but they don't want to be controlled by Washington. Such complicated mindsets have offered room for competition between leftists and rightists in Latin America.

Latin American countries have accused the Central Intelligence Agency of planning to topple their regimes. With the exception of Cuba, conflicts between the US and leftist Latin American regimes haven't spiraled out of control. The fact Latin America is in the US' backyard hasn't changed over time.

Subtle relations between Latin America and the US may offer a lesson for China. China is not like the US, which has the great desire and capability to control others. China should work more positively with Latin America, which is in accordance with the region's wishes and offers an alternative to the US having the final say.

Trade volume between China and Latin America reached $250 billion last year, but cooperation between the two sides is not deep enough. More in-depth cooperation will lead to a much closer relationship.

Chavez was an old friend of the Chinese people. His rocky relationship with the US will be judged in history by the Americas.

Posted in: Editorial

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