Analysis: Allies to lose socialist patron if Venezuela's Chavez goes

Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:06am EST
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By Andrew Cawthorne

CARACAS (Reuters) - Murals adorning a Caracas slum that has given militant backing to President Hugo Chavez over the years are a virtual pantheon of international radicals.

From Colombia's FARC guerrillas to the Palestine Liberation Organization and Ernesto "Che" Guevara, the images and slogans on teeming slopes above Chavez's presidential palace hail socialist revolutionaries the world over.

Beside them are tributes to Chavez himself - testimony to the Venezuelan leader's bid to place himself at the front of global "anti-imperialism" in his ever-controversial 14-year rule.

Now, though, as Chavez battles cancer in a Cuban hospital, his role as garrulous international activist and rich godfather to fellow leftists around Latin America is under threat.

"All Venezuelan revolutionaries, and all people of good faith around the world, are praying for his recovery," said Greivis Garcia, a 26-year-old mechanic at a vigil for Chavez in the January 23 slum full of revolutionary images.

"We need him so much. And so does the world. But whatever happens, Chavez will live forever, damn it!"


Should he die or be forced to stand down, faraway friends from Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Belarus's President Alexander Lukashenko and Syria's President Bashar al-Assad would lose a loud and highly visible supporter.   Continued...

A supporter of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez holds a picture of him, as she attends a ceremony to pray for his health in Caracas December 20, 2012. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins