Hugo Chávez is back HomeFebruary 20, 2013
When the return of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was announced in the early morning of February 18 after more than 70 days in a Havana hospital following his fourth cancer operation there in 18 months, hundreds of his followers spontaneously gathered in the “esquina caliente” (hot corner) of Plaza Bolívar, a space where citizens engage in political discussions. Many people also gathered near the Carlos Arvelo military hospital, where Chávez was transferred from La Havana to continue treatment.
The people shouted and sang slogans like “Welcome to our homeland! We love you! We are with you! You are the leader of the Latin American revolution, our second Liberator!” (referring to Simón Bolívar as the first) while carrying photos of the president and Venezuelan flags. Vice President Nicolás Maduro stated that the day will be a national day of joy, and encouraged people to hang flags in their homes.
Messages of well wishes arrived from throughout the region, including those of Piedad Córdoba from Colombia and newly re-elected Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa.
Hopes that Chavez will again take up the reins of his Bolivarian revolution though are probably not realistic. Since returning to Caracas, the 58-year-old President has remained hidden from public view and the government has made it clear that his battle with cancer is far from over.
“The President has returned to continue his medical treatment. The President’s time right now is not political,” Rodrigo Cabezas, a senior member of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela said on state TV.
The Spanish newspaper ABC reported that the team of Russian and Cuban doctors treating Chavez has concluded, that nothing more can be done to stop the cancer and that the President’s treatment should now focus on “palliative care in this final phase”. ABC reported also that several doctors had now left the team treating Chavez, and that the President would not be returning to Cuba for further treatment.
The Venezuelan government has shown itself capable of taking decisions in the President’s absence. Earlier this month it devalued the Bolivar and announced a corruption investigation of leading members of the opposition party Primero Justicia.
Miranda Governor Henrique Capriles, who lost to Chavez in October’s presidential elections is already campaigning since December in the hope, that Chávez will succumb to his cancer and new election will be necessary. The Venezuelan Constitution calls for elections within 30 days if Chávez dies or steps down from office.
Fidel Castro Ruz summed up the relevance of Chávez in a letter written the night before the return. Here is the translated version (translation by Rachael Boothroyd):
‘Until victory always!’
February 18, 2013
I am extremely satisfied that you have been able to return to that piece of American land which you love so much, and to our brother people who support you so much.
A long and agonizing wait, as well as your astonishing capacity for physical resistance and the total dedication of a team of doctors, as has been the case over the last 10 years, were necessary to achieve this objective.
It would be totally unfair not to mention the insurmountable dedication of your closest family members, your colleagues in the revolutionary leadership, the Bolivarian Armed Forces, who were re-armed and re-equipped by you, and the honest people of the world who have shown their support.
The breath the Venezuelan people offered you also deserves a special mention, who saluted you with their daily demonstrations of enthusiastic and unshakeable support. It is to this which your happy return to Venezuela is owed.
You learned a lot about life, Hugo, in those difficult days of suffering and sacrifice. Now that we will not have the privilege of receiving news of you on a daily basis, we will go back to the method of correspondence which we have used for many years.
We will always live to fight for justice for human beings, consciously and humbly, without fear of the years, months, days or hours that we might have left to live in the most critical era of the history of our humanity.
Our people, who are also your people, will know tomorrow of your return to Venezuelan via this message. Everything had to be done with much discretion, so as not to give an opportunity to the fascist groups to plan any of their cynical actions against the Bolivarian revolutionary process.
When the socialist camp collapsed and the USSR disintegrated, and imperialism with its sharpened knife tried to drown the Cuban Revolution in blood, Venezuela, a relatively small country in divided America, was capable of preventing that. Due to time restraints, I have not mentioned the numerous countries in the Antilles, Central and South America that Venezuela has helped, on top of its great economic and social programs. That is why all honest people of the world have followed closely the “health and news of Chávez.”
Until victory always!
A firm hug!
Fidel Castro Ruz