(MintPress) – The morning after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s death was announced, U.S. media emerged with stories celebrating the passing of an American enemy. Prominent conservative news website Drudge Report ran the story on top, accompanied with the headline, “Hell’s A-Burning.”
The day after his death, Fox News Latino ran with the headline, “Hugo Chavez Used Oil to Consolidate Power, Eroding Nation’s Economy.” Forbes went with “Hugo Chavez Leaves The Soft-Dictator’s Oil Curse As His Legacy.” CNN’s headline following Chavez’s death labeled him as an “Influential Leader With Mixed Record,” representing America’s anti-Chavez attitude.
Around the world, though, something else happened and the negative portrayal of Chavez was not portrayed in the coverage of his legacy, touting Chavez as a “hero” to his own people. Directly following his death, the BBC’s headline was “Iconic Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Dies,” following up Wednesday with coverage of Venezuelan response to his death. Following the story on who would take over for Chavez, Russia Today published the story, “Chavez’s Pal or US-Backed Rich Kid: Who Will Inherit Venezuela?”
Regardless of the tone of U.S. media organizations, there’s no denying Venezuelans were mourning Wednesday.
Tens of thousands of Venezuelans flooded the streets to march alongside the coffin that held their leader, beloved by the poor and opposed by the wealthy. Images published by NBC News depict the emotions, with residents crying as they mourned — and celebrated — the life of Chavez. Venezuela’s Caracas soccer team paused for a moment of silence to honor Chavez before their game March 5.
Caracas newspaper, El Universal, published a tribute story on Wednesday titled, “The story has just begun,” illustrating a new form of “Chavezism” that is likely to emerge from the leader’s unique governing style demonstrated through his 14 years in power.
“A cycle seems to be ending,” the newspaper wrote, “along with the extremely personal style of the so-called Bolivarian revolution. A new stage of Chavezism without Chavez has begun.”
With Venezuela sitting on the world’s second largest oil reserve, the stakes in the upcoming presidential election will be high. Before his death, Chavez said his wish was for his vice president, Nicolas Maduro, to take over his reign, which will mean challenging Henrique Capriles Radonski, a man backed by the United States.
The difference between the two leaders to the United States is access to oil — or not. Radonski would de-nationalize the oil industry, giving more opportunity for the U.S. to benefit from oil production, a move strongly opposed by Chavez, who favored using the oil supply to benefit the people of his country, not foreign corporations.
As noted by Russia Today, the United States already is gearing up to hoist Radonski to victory.
“(He) coincidentally enough was in Miami and New York within the last 48 to 72 hours,” historian Gerald Horne told RT. “Obviously, they are going to be gearing up for a battle royal.”
The Obama administration issued a statement Tuesday evening, stating: “At this challenging time of President Hugo Chavez’s passing, the United States reaffirms its support for the Venezuelan people and its interest in developing a constructive relationship with the Venezuelan government. As Venezuela begins a new chapter in its history, the United States remains committed to policies that promote democratic principles, the rule of law and respect for human rights.”
U.S. congressmen echoed that sentiment, claiming now is the time to renew relationships with Venezuela.
Under Venezuela’s constitution, an election must be held within 30 days of a president passing.