World allies mourn Hugo Chavez's demise

End of era : Firebrand socialist led Venezuela for 14 years till end

World allies mourn Hugo Chavez's demise

Condolences poured in on Wednesday from world leaders who had found common cause with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez in his 14-year campaign to galvanize the Latin American left and defy US “imperialism.”

Ideological allies in Latin America lined up to salute the late firebrand as Russia, China and Iran paid tribute to a key regional partner, while the United States expressed hope for improved ties with oil-rich Venezuela.

Chavez, 58, died after a long battle with cancer, plunging Venezuela into an uncertain future after 14 years of rule by the charismatic former paratrooper, a standard-bearer of Latin America’s “anti-imperialist” left.

Cuba hailed Chavez as a “true son” to the communist nation’s retired 86-year-old revolutionary icon Fidel Castro and declared three days of mourning in honor of its closest regional ally and main economic benefactor.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called Chavez an “uncommon and strong man who looked into the future and always set the highest target for himself” and thanked him for laying the “solid basis” for Russia-Venezuela relations.

Russia enjoys close military ties with Venezuela, which also represents one of the main oversees investment targets of the giant state oil company Rosneft.

China, which also cultivated strong economic ties with Chavez’s Venezuela, called him a “great leader” and a “great friend of the Chinese people.”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Chavez had fallen as a “martyr” to a “suspect illness,” apparently referring to claims by Chavez’s successor Nicolas Maduro that the cancer that killed him was part of a conspiracy. “Venezuela lost its brave, strong son and the world lost a wise and revolutionary leader,” Ahmadinejad added.

Washington’s response to the death of Chavez, who had repeatedly thumbed his nose at the United States and referred to president George W Bush as a “donkey” and the “devil,” was more circumspect.

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