Chávez’s Death Met With Grief, Relief

Vigil for Hugo Chávez at the Venezuelan Consulate of New York. (Photo by Mariela Lombard, via El Diario/La Prensa)

The passing of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez last Tuesday has been felt in New York City, where dozens mourned him at a memorial vigil at the Venezuelan Consulate and supporters recalled his solidarity with the poor, while others welcomed his passing, El Diario/La Prensa and the Hunts Point Express report.

According to a story by Cristina Loboguerrero, the mourners were from different countries. They brought in placards, candles, flags and pictures of the “Comandante,” and signed in a Book of Condolences.

“His absence will only be physical, because his spirit and his lessons in fighting shall be an inspiration for his followers to keep the struggle going,” said a visibly moved Rafael Ferrer, fom Caracas.

The Ecuadoran Tyrsay Montejo said that he attended the vigil as an “act of support for the Venezuelan people, and to give my condolences to those mourning such an irreparable loss.”

The Puerto Rican Andrés Peñaloza said he wanted to denounce the U.S. meddling  in Venezuela’s sovereignty, and “proclaim that Venezuela’s future rests only in the hands of the Venezuelan people.”

The story also reported on Venezuelans in New York who saw the head of state’s passing as a relief.

Alvaro Acevedo said he hopes that, after Chávez’s death, “the situation in Venezuela will improve, so we can finally elect a president who would allow all of us Venezuelans in exile go back to our country.”

“Nobody should rejoice the death of anyone, but Chávez’s brings me relief and worries for the future of my family in Maracaibo,” said Nancy Pedraza. “I only hope that there will be a new election and that finally all of us can participate equally.”

The memorial at the Consulate, on 7 E. 51st Street, will remain open Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. According to the article, a vigil will be held on Friday at 6:30 p.m., at the auditoriums of 1199SEIU at  310 W. 43rd Street. The participants will then walk to the Simón Bolívar statue in Central Park.

Also mourning the passing of Chávez is Rep. José E. Serrano of the Bronx who recalled how the Venezuelan leader helped poor South Bronx tenants get heating oil at discounted prices from state-owned company Citgo, The Hunts Points Express reports.

Hugo Chavez at The Point in 2005 with Rep. José E. Serrano. (Photo via The Hunts Point Express)

Serrano recalled Chavez’s visit to The Point, the community center on Garrison Avenue, where he stayed for hours and played drums with The Welfare Poets.

“I met President Chavez in 2005 when he came to my district at my invitation,” said Serrano. “His focus on the issues faced by the poor and disenfranchised in his country made him a truly revolutionary leader in the history of Latin America.”

In nationalizing the oil industry, the congressman continued, “He had harnessed the power of his nation’s oil resources and was using their profits—through—to enact social spending programs. Now he offered people in the Bronx that were struggling economically the same deal.”

He acknowledged that Chavez was controversial, but argued that “At his core he was a man who came from very little and used his unique talents and gifts to try to lift up the people and the communities that reflected his impoverished roots,” and said, “His legacy in his nation, and in the hemisphere, will be assured, as the people he inspired continue to strive for a better life for the poor and downtrodden.”

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